What is a Detached Garage under an NFIP Flood Insurance Policy?
Under a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) dwelling policy (the policy most homeowners have), detached garages are covered up to 10% of the liability of the dwelling. So if the policy limit is $250,000, the coverage on the detached garage is $25,000. The NFIP dwelling policy further explains that if any part of the detached garage is used for residential, business or farming purposes, it will not be covered. FEMA interprets “residential” to mean “living space,” i.e., an apartment, and the like. The structure retains its character as a detached garage if it is used only for parking motorized vehicles, storage, heaters, air conditioners, powder room, refrigerator with ice maker, freezer, laundry, mud sink, hot water heating in floor or a workshop. What is not covered is a detached garage that is entirely or in part used as or held for use as a sleeping space.
Under the NFIP Adjuster Claim Manual, if any part of the detached garage is used for residential, business or farming purposes, coverage for the garage is nullified. The ordinary dictionary meanings of the words “residential” (e.g. suitable for or used as a residence or dwelling) and “dwelling” (e.g., a place to live in, abode) are used when applying coverage to detached garages. These words should not however be broadly applied to limit coverage. However, for the purpose of this limitation, kitchen facilities are not required for the space to qualify as residential use or a place to live in.
About the Author: Christopher W. Gerold is an attorney in Wolff & Samson’s Disaster Recovery Claims Group. Chris represents homeowners and businesses with their Sandy related insurance claims with a special focus on flood insurance. For more information on flood insurance and ways Wolff & Samson can help you with your flood insurance claim, please contact Chris at (973) 530-2061.