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What do you keep in a garage? A while ago, the answer would’ve been simple: your car. However, things have changed, and Britain has become a nation of hoarders. Take a look inside a garage now and it’s highly likely that you won’t find a car. In fact, nearly half of Britain’s garages are no longer being used for cars. So what are they being used for?

A study by RAC Home Insurance has revealed that 4.6 million of Britain’s 10.6 million garages are not being used for their original purpose, with four out of ten garage owners admitting that there is no room for a car amongst all the clutter in their garage.

However, while we may be using the garage to store our ‘stuff’, it turns out that some of our items are valuable. Among the disused cameras, leftover kitchen tiles and dusty Christmas decorations, lie some hidden treasures. The RAC study estimates that the average garage in the UK holds £1,650-worth of belongings. When you spread that figure across the nation, that means that there is £7.6 billion worth of ‘stuff’ sitting dormant in garages. To put that into perspective, that’s more than the combined wealth of Richard Branson and Lord Alan Sugar.

But garages aren’t just being used as an extra cupboard, they’re also being converted. One in ten garage owners who took part in the survey said that they had converted their garage into living accommodation, which means that 678,000 garages have been turned into rooms nationwide. The survey also discovered that more than a third of people who don’t use their garage for a car have turned it into a workshop for hobbies and DIY, and more than one in 12 use it as a gym.

So, the garage is both flexible and valuable, but how do you go about insuring it?


What is garage insurance?

Garage insurance does exactly what it says on the tin: it insures your garage. It is usually included as part of most home insurance policies, rather than as a standalone policy, and protects both the structure and the contents of the garage.

The level of cover offered depends on whether your garage is ‘part of your home’ or an outbuilding. In order for your garage to fall into the ‘part of your home’ category, it needs to be physically connected to the building. An outbuilding garage that is within the boundaries of your property will be treated in the same manner as a garden wall or shed. However, if you own a garage that is outside of the boundary of your property, it will not be covered by your home insurance policy. That said, if you did want to have your out-of-boundary garage covered by your home insurance, you may be able to add it to your policy at an extra cost.

Garage Insurance Guide

Garages attached to the home

If your garage is attached to your house, your buildings insurance policy will offer the same level of cover as it does to the rest of the home. Structures and fixtures will be covered by your policy and the possessions kept inside of the garage will be given the same level of cover as your possessions inside of your house through your contents insurance policy.

Both building and home insurance can be purchased as separate policies. However, the majority of people take them out together in a neat, easy-to-manage and all-inclusive ‘home insurance’ policy. Buildings insurance covers the structure of your garage against losses incurred by the likes of fire, smoke, theft, malicious damage, earthquakes and flooding. Make sure that you read the policy and understand what events you are covered for, as the document will also list any events that you cannot claim on.  As a general rule of thumb, you will only be covered if the structural integrity or functionality of your garage is hindered. For example, you will not be covered if a storm dented your garage door and it still worked without a problem. But, if the damage incurred by the storm meant that the door didn’t work, then you would be likely to receive a pay-out for repairs. 

Contents insurance, on the other hand, will cover items that you keep in the garage against the cost of repair and replacement caused by the likes of fire, theft, flooding, malicious damage and earthquakes. As with buildings insurance, make sure that you read the policy documents and understand what events are covered. If you are ever unsure, ask your policy provider to give clarity.

High-value items

If you’re keeping high-value items in your garage, e.g. bikes of golf clubs, you need to declare them as high-value items on the policy. Failure to do so may mean that they are not fully covered should something happen to them. Similarly, to make sure that they’re covered by your insurance policy, all high-value items need to be locked away safely and securely.

If you’re planning on using the garage for its original purpose and park your car in it, the car will need to be covered by a car insurance policy rather than a contents insurance policy.


Garages detached from the home

An outbuilding garage should receive the same buildings insurance cover as a ‘part of the home’ garage. However, this may differ from provider to provider, so it’s worth checking in with your policy provider to see if this is the case.

Contents insurance for an outbuilding garage will cover the same events as a ‘part of the home’ garage.  But, while your policy will still protect you from damage caused by issues such as fire, flooding and earthquakes, the amount you can claim for your contents may be lower. For example, if you had items stolen from your outbuilding garage, your provider may only let you claim up to £5,000. However, if the garage had been part of the home, you might have been able to claim up to £10,000. This may also be the case for repairing and replacing items that have been damaged or lost because of floods, fires and malicious damage.

Vehicles and clutters do not mix well and accidental damage to the garage is a common occurrence. Perhaps you got a bit excited on your way home, revved the car early and rammed it into the garage door. Maybe you were rehearsing your swing too loosely and ended up launching your nine-iron through the window. Whatever the accident, it can happen. But, while you may spend time feeling sorry for yourself and wallowing in regret, your insurance policy provider won’t.

Accidental Damage Cover

Standard home insurance will not cover for accidental damage. It can be added on to your policy, but it will come at a cost. This may be a tempting add-on (particularly if you’re accident-prone), but the amount you can claim per item in an outbuilding garage may be less than if it was damaged in the home, so it may end up costing you more than it’s worth in the long run. Similarly, if you have an outbuilding garage and have taken out accidental damage cover in your home insurance, it may not cover your garage. Make sure that you’ve read and understood the terms of your policy documents before you purchase insurance and start practising your swing.


How to protect your items

So we know the garage can be a treasure chest of valuable items that need to be protected. But how do you go about making sure that your items are correctly covered?

Well, firstly, make sure that you include the items in your garage in the value of your contents when you purchase home insurance. Failure to declare certain items will lead to them being vulnerable.

You also need to show evidence that you have taken steps to ensure that your items are safe. Install lights and an alarm to deter thieves and keep your belongings locked away in a secure location. It will be tough to claim for theft when there are no visible signs of forced entry or if the garage was left unlocked.

If you have high-value items that are worth over £350, separately add them to your policy to make sure that they’re covered. You should apply this rule to items in the house and items in the garage to ensure that they are protected by your policy.

It might be the dumping ground of your house, but there is more to the garage than meets the eye. Yes, there are birthday cards from six years ago that are no longer worth a dime, but there are also some more and valuable items hiding behind that door. Whether you think everything is worthless or not, make sure that your garage is insured and that your belongings are protected. If you’re ever unsure, ask your policy provider about what the cover involves and always ready your policy. It’s a boring read, but it’s worthwhile.


Insuring your garage with buzzvault

We recognised that insurance doesn’t always work as it should, which is why we built buzzvault: hyper-personalised home and contents insurance based on a digital inventory of what you own and its value. So what does this mean for you, the customer?

  1. Our insurance is based on an up-to-date record of what you own and its value, so you always have the right level of cover in place.
  2. You can add new items to your policy as and when you acquire them, so your cover stays up to date.
  3. If an item is listed in your buzzvault, then it’s covered. End of story. Simply open our app and claim back at the touch of a button.

If you want to learn more about what we offer, then head over to https://gobuzzvault.com. Or jump straight in and get a super-rapid personalised quote now.