Homeowners vs. Dwelling Policies

Often our clients will say they need Dwelling insurance for their home when they really mean they need broader coverage provided in a homeowners policy. Dwelling insurance generally protects your home structure only from many natural perils, except floods or earthquakes. In addition to the structure, Homeowners insurance also protects additional structures on the property, such as detached garages and backyard sheds. Unlike dwelling coverage, homeowners insurance also protects your personal property and included liability coverage is included, where such coverages must be bought separately or added to dwelling policies.


Both property dwelling and homeowners insurance cover structures attached to the main house, such as garages or decks. But homeowners insurance will also protect detached structures, such as detached garages and sheds. Most homeowners insurance policies allow the owner to identify and add detached items, even barns and swimming pools, to their coverage. Both insurance types cover electrical, plumbing and heating systems inside the home.


Liability refers to the risk that may arise from a third person or where a visitor suffers injury or property damage while on your property. Homowners includes such coverage. As to standard Property dwelling insurance, you must purchase a separate liability policy or add this coverage to your policy with a rider for a separate additional premium and such coverage does not come with dwelling protection.

Personal Property

Also called “contents,” personal property is covered in most standard homeowners policies, but is not included in property dwelling coverage. Your personal property includes your furniture, clothing, large and small appliances and other items not considered structures. However, if you have expensive jewelry, art or antiques, you should consider separate policy riders that specifically cover these items. Property dwelling insurance does not cover your property’s contents unless you add this coverage to the policy. If you purchase property dwelling insurance with contents coverage, you’ll be reimbursed for damaged, destroyed or stolen personal items.

Temporary Living Expenses

Typically called “loss of use” coverage, this feature of homeowners insurance reimburses you for temporary expenses to live if you can’t ramain in the house while it’s being repaired. Most insurance policies specify that your home must be damaged by a covered peril. For example, should your home suffer fire damage, costs you incur for temporary living expenses that maintain a “normal standard of living” will be reimbursed. Standard property dwelling insurance does not cover these expenses.


Insurance policies refer to “perils,” which are the events that cause losses. Homeowners and property dwelling insurance often differ in covered perils. Property dwelling insurance offers “named perils” coverage, providing protection for specific causes of loss, with other disasters excluded from protection. Most homeowners insurance provides “all perils” coverage for your home, which protects against all causes of loss, except those specifically excluded from the policy. However, even many “all perils” homeowners insurance policies cover your personal property for “named perils” only. A careful read of the fine print will reveal what type you have. See our article on the difference between HO3 and HO5 policies which are the type of policies most lenders require.