Sheds and outbuildings are a simple, versatile and popular storage solution. And in the UK, shed ownership outstrips anywhere else in the world: some estimates put the per-capita figure at around one shed for every six people in the country.
Meanwhile the quest for more living space has seen us replacing our workhorse garden sheds with chic, sleek summerhouses in increasing numbers, or even converting them into soundproof studios and home offices.
Some have been transformed for use as quirky extra bedrooms for visitors and paying guests – reducing congestion in the main property and granting privacy, alongside being a novel revenue stream.
Why should I insure my shed?
With an estimated 11m sheds across the United Kingdom, in many ways they are the victims of their own success.
The contents of an average British shed could easily run into the thousands to replace, and because they tend to be set up away from the home, they are a much easier target for would-be burglars.
Is a shed covered by home insurance?
Many domestic buildings insurance policies extend cover to outbuildings (including greenhouses and summerhouses) as standard, so as long as your home insurance is up to date, you should be covered against weather damage to the fabric of the shed. Usually, the level of cover is unlimited – but it’s wise to check the fine print of the policy.
Is it worth insuring the contents of my shed?
The short answer is yes! This will not require a separate policy – it’ll be covered by your standard home insurance – but you need a good idea of what your shed’s contents are worth and let your insurer know. Contents insurance policies work by getting you to report the total value of your possessions, so the insurer knows how much they need to pay if you make a claim for theft or damage.
The risk of underinsuring your shed’s contents is very real, simply because our garden and shed belongings may be the result of accumulation over time rather than a single shopping spree – meaning many of us may be underestimating the value of the things we keep there.
What’s the maximum level of contents cover for sheds?
The usual maximum coverage for contents is £5,000 – but if you feel your belongings are worth more, you may want to consider moving some things into your home.
What’s the difference between a shed and a summerhouse?
Other than the (often very!) noticeable difference in price, the chief thing that sets a summerhouse and a shed apart is the intended purpose. Although they may be designed along the same size footprint, the point of a summerhouse is recreation – a way to capture a get-away-from-it-all feel from the privacy of your own garden.
Adding children’s toys, power tools and other expensive items to the already limited space would ruin the uncluttered vibe, and turn it into a shed.
Summerhouses and shepherds’ huts have seen an upsurge in popularity in the last few years. Some of these bespoke, interior-designed huts are beyond most people’s affordability, and will need bespoke insurance policies, but there are ways to create a cozy nook on a more modest sum – particularly if you repurpose things no longer needed from your home.
What if I want to use my shed as a bedroom?
The key things to bear in mind are how often and for whom as this may affect the need for planning permission and compliance with building regulations. If the sleeping space is only in occasional use, then planning permission is not needed but the outbuilding should comply with building regulations.
However, if you want a permanent bedroom or to create a self-contained living space, then planning permission is a must. Your local planning office will be able to help further and offer advice relevant to your situation.
If you do plan to use you shed or summerhouse as a studio, office space or as an additional bedroom, it is worth mentioning this to your current insurance provider in advance as there may be specific stipulations for full coverage.
How can I keep my shed secure?
Properly securing and then keeping your shed in good repair will help you avoid the cost of replacing possessions or making a preventable claim on your insurance.
If left unresolved, issues like water ingress, nesting pests or bad weather and changes in temperature can quickly cause avoidable and costly damage.
Keeping locks on the windows and doors in good repair will keep your belongings safe, dry and protected, and will make entry by any potential burglars much more difficult.
If you want to take security further, investing in a few simple upgrades can make for a less attractive target. Measures to consider include:
- Securing windows and doors, including replacing any cracked or missing glass, fixing ‘sticky’ window or door jambs and adding security bars or locks to windows
- Obscuring windows may be a good idea, so that whatever is inside cannot be seen from the outside
- Upgrading to weather and corrosion resistant, heavier-duty padlocks
- Adding a wireless shed alarm: entry-level models can be picked up for £15 to 20. A siren will sound if an incorrect combination is put into the keypad
- Locking your bike to a permanent, securely-installed bar inside the shed rather than simply to itself or another item (like a lawnmower). This may be a stipulation from your insurance provider in order to be covered for outdoor storage
- Power tools and similar items should be kept securely out of sight – perhaps in a locker or lockable cabinet.
- Security lighting and sightlines: think about how visible is your shed from neighbouring properties as well as the street and how much cover its position provides a trespasser
Does home insurance cover allotment sheds?
Generally no – the shed needs to be on the same plot of land as your home to be covered by your contents insurance policy. You may be able to get group or individual cover through the allotment association, so check to see what they have in place.
You may be able to cover your gardening equipment on your home insurance if you’ve taken out personal possessions cover for portable belongings outside the home such as mobile phones, bags and cameras. However, it is better that you don’t leave anything of value in your allotment shed overnight and it is often advised not to lock it, to prevent people breaking in for nothing.
You can avoid paying a shedload for your shed contents insurance with MoneySuperMarket. Simply give us a few details about your home and circumstances, and we will provide you with a range of options from our partner providers.