One of the greatest parts about living in a coastal community like Pinellas County is the ability to enjoy Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. And for those lucky enough to own a piece of paradise on the water, your property most likely has a dock.
However, if your dock gets damaged during a hurricane, such as Hurricane Irma, do you have insurance coverage? After storms our agents field all types of questions, such as:
- Does my homeowners insurance policy cover my dock?
- Will my flood insurance policy cover my dock from rising waters or storm surge?
- What happens if lightning damages my dock during? Will insurance cover it?
Unfortunately, like most other insurance coverages, the answer is “it depends.”
Why Your Dock Is Probably Not Covered by Flood Insurance
If loss is caused by flood, the answer to the question about coverage most always is going to be that there is NO coverage. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy, which covers the majority of US home owners specifically excludes coverage for seawalls, bulkheads, wharves, piers, bridges, & docks. This means when rising waters or storm surge cause damage or loss to your dock, you will have to pay out of pocket to replace it.
Why Your Dock Might be Covered by Your Homeowners Policy
However, with your Homeowners policy there typically is some coverage provided as long as you chose to purchase Other Structures coverage. Other Structures can usually be purchased at limits at 2%, 5%, or 10% of your building value (or possibly higher by endorsement), and just as you might expect, the higher the coverage, the more premium you have to pay.
This coverage provides protection for, “other structures on the residence premises set apart from the dwelling by clear space.” Some examples of common other structures are the following:
- Fences or gates
- Detached garages
- Pools (unless covered under your Building coverage)
Your Other Structures coverage, typically provides coverage for the same risks that you home is covered for such as fire, lighting, aircraft, windstorm, & hail. Though it is important to note that most homeowners emphasize the fact that they do not provide flood coverage by adding exclusionary wording for water damage that occurs as a result of a flood, surface water, waves, tides, tidal water, overflow of any body of water, storm surge, or spray from any of these (whether driven by wind). Therefore, even if we had a hurricane without much storm surge (which is not very likely in Pinellas county), your dock would most likely see damage from wind driven rain which would be excluded.
The Other Structures coverage also provides some exclusions specifically for docks, that your home property does not have. The first exclusion that impacts dock insurance is regarding collapse of a pier, wharf, or dock unless the loss was a result of the collapse of a building or any part of a building. This means if your dock collapses into the seawater, you’ll have to pay for a new dock out of our own pocket. The second typical exclusion is for freezing. Most homeowner’s policies state that they do not insure for loss as a result of freezing, thawing, pressure or weight of water or ice (whether driven by wind or not) to a pier, wharf or dock.
So, What the Heck is Covered?
Obviously, the most common losses are a result of a flood, wind driven rain, collapse, or weight of water, which are all excluded. That being said, the most common covered losses we see are for fire and lightning damage. It’s also important to note, that liability coverage is provided subject to policy exclusions.
Words of Caution
Another area of concern are docks that may be away (or just away) from the “residence premises”. In situations like these you may need to include wording to include the dock as the “residence premises”, or if not you may need to endorse coverage for off premises structures (although many insurance carriers don’t like to do either).
Also, please take this article as a general rule of thumb for dock coverage. Many carriers have proprietary coverage forms which both give and give away coverage, so it’s extremely important to review your coverage with a professional insurance agent experienced in writing policies for coastal home owners.
If you have questions about your dock or any other aspect of your Homeowners or Flood policy, please reach out to our dedicated agents, or contact Brian T. Ford, CPCU at 727-345-0242 or [email protected]