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Dwelling Insurance Coverage Explained

You may know that personal property coverage protects the belongings in your home, like furniture, clothing, electronics, artwork — all the things that make your home uniquely yours. But what about protection for the actual structure of your home? For instance, if your home catches fire and you need to rebuild part of your house, will your home insurance cover the damages? That’s why you have dwelling coverage.

Dwelling insurance — also known as Coverage A — is an important part of your homeowners insurance policy because it helps pay to repair or replace the structure of your home if it’s damaged by a covered loss. What’s considered a dwelling and what exactly does your dwelling insurance cover? Let’s find out.

What Is a Dwelling?

A dwelling is the house you live in and anything that’s attached to it, like a deck or garage. Your personal property and certain detached structures (like garages, sheds, gazebos and fences) are covered by other parts of your policy. Sometimes the coverage included for detached structures may not be enough, so we offer optional coverage to better protect them.

What Does Dwelling Insurance Cover?

Property insurance dwelling coverage is the portion of your standard homeowners insurance policy that covers damages to the structure of your home. Common risks covered by dwelling insurance include damage from:

  • Fire
  • Wind
  • Hail
  • Lightning
  • Smoke
  • Explosion
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Falling objects

For example, if your home is damaged by a windstorm, whether the siding is blown off or a tree fell onto your roof, the repair and/or associated costs would be covered by the dwelling portion of your home insurance. It’s important to assess your comfort level with risk and understand your coverage limits when deciding whether or not you need to extend the coverages included with your base policy. For example will your damaged siding be replaced with matching siding? Or will you receive replacement cost or actual cash value for damage to your roof. It’s important to have answers to these questions upfront, before you need to file a claim.

What Isn’t Covered by Dwelling Insurance?

Though dwelling coverage protects you in many ways, there are instances where your dwelling won’t be covered unless you add on optional coverage:


Damage caused by floods isn’t covered by homeowners insurance. But American Family offers the option to purchase flood insurance with the National Flood Insurance Program to keep your home and possessions protected.


Earthquake coverage is an optional coverage you can add to your homeowners policy. It’s an extra layer of protection that kicks in where your basic coverage ends. Find out more about earthquake coverage with American Family.

Detached Structures

As mentioned before, the included coverage for detached structures might not be high enough for your needs. So for structures like sheds, fences, swimming pools, garages or guest houses, you’ll need to purchase other structures coverage, which pays for damage to the detached structures on your property.

How Much Dwelling Coverage Do You Need?

The amount of dwelling insurance coverage you need depends on a number of factors, but a good rule of thumb is to have enough coverage to cover the cost to rebuild your home. If you don’t have enough dwelling coverage to rebuild, you’d be left paying any remaining costs out of pocket.

Remember that the price you paid for your home doesn’t equate to your dwelling’s extra replacement cost. Numerous factors, like the style of your home, its square footage, whether parts of your home were custom-built, inflation, local construction costs and the demand for contractors all play a role in the cost to rebuild your home. And if you suffer a total loss, you’ll have to account for the cost to demolish your current home and remove the debris in order to rebuild.

For example: if a housefire totally destroys your home, you will need enough dwelling coverage to help pay for the reconstruction of your home. That means you have to take into account things like the original materials used, any features like solar panels or additions like a new sunroom. Be sure to have your house professionally assessed by your insurance agent so you know just how much dwelling coverage you need — before you need it.

To ensure you have the proper amount of coverage for your home and attached structures, speak with your agent, who can help you estimate your home or dwelling's replacement cost and select dwelling coverage levels for your home.

Insurance for Structures Not Covered by Dwelling Insurance

Sure, dwelling insurance protects your home, but what about other structures you may have on your property? That’s where other structures coverage comes in. Other structures coverage protects the detached buildings on your property from the same type of events that your home is covered for, such as vandalism, fire and falling objects. Types of other structures include:

  • Detached garages
  • Gazebos
  • Sheds
  • Swimming pools
  • Fences

Keep in mind that other structures coverage protects the structure itself — not the things you store inside. Your personal property coverage on your homeowners insurance policy is what covers the things inside your other structures.

Are There Different Types of Dwelling Coverage?

Some living situations require special attention when considering dwelling coverage. If you’re living in a condo or home that requires you to pay homeowners or condo association fees, or if you’re a landlord renting out property to tenants, there are a few things you should know.

Do My Homeowners Association Fees Pay for Dwelling Coverage?

If you’re living in a subdivision or other neighborhood and are part of a homeowners association, you may be wondering if those fees pay for dwelling coverage on your home. Typically, HOA fees for single-family homes don’t include homeowners insurance for your property, which means you’ll need to consider dwelling coverage separately from your HOA.

HOA fees generally cover shared areas — like community pools, sidewalks and terraces — but each individual’s home is up to them to insure.

How Much Dwelling Coverage Do I Need for a Condo?

For folks who own condos, there are a few things to consider before purchasing dwelling coverage. How much dwelling coverage you need for a condo depends on what kind of condo association master policy you’re paying for.

If your master policy is all-inclusive, it means that it covers all the interior and exterior surfaces of your condo, including toilets, showers and kitchen cabinets affixed to the walls. You should consider personal property insurance — an all-inclusive policy won’t cover your personal belongings — but most of the actual condo is covered.

If your policy is what’s called a “bare walls” policy, that means only the exterior of the condo’s building is covered. Everything inside your unit is your responsibility to insure. This is where dwelling coverage comes in and can help protect your condo’s interior.

Do I Need Dwelling Coverage If I Rent My Property?

Landlords have a lot to think about when it comes to renting out their property, including how much and what types of insurance they should purchase. If you’re renting out your property to others — be it a house or individual apartment units — you’ll want to consider landlord insurance, which includes a form of dwelling coverage that protects the value of your building and any auxiliary structures that are used in service of your rental property.

Learn More About Homeowners Insurance and Dwelling Coverage

You work hard for your home and understanding how your insurance protects you is one way to be a responsible homeowner. There’s a lot to know about home insurance, but your American Family Insurance agent is ready to help walk you through what you need to know to make sure you’re properly covered. Connect with your agent today and gain peace of mind you’re protecting what matters most.

This coverage is not available in MN at this time.

Some coverages may not be available in your state or on your specific policy form. Please speak with your agent to learn more about your coverage options.