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Protecting your man cave: How to insure your hi-tech escape

Ah, the man cave. That solitary space where the gentleman of the house can escape the hustle of everyday life, perhaps pour himself a pint of beer, and relax. Often these dens of masculine decadence are loaded with expensive toys, like a flat-screen television, pool table or even a fully stocked bar. It can be a substantial investment, which begs the question: Do you need to buy a little extra homeowner’s insurance to make sure your man cave is covered?

According to Aaron Nicklay, a Minnesota-based Farmers insurance agent who specializes in non-traditional home features like man caves and elaborate gardens, the answer to this question is going to depend on several factors.

man-cave“When most people buy homeowner’s insurance, they usually just give the insurance company a few quick facts about their home, get a quote, and leave it at that,” Nicklay says. “But when it comes to special features like a man cave, you need to make sure you are asking the right questions and giving your insurance company the right information.”

Is your personal property covered?

Most standard homeowner’s insurance policies provide coverage for personal property based on a fixed percentage of the total value of the house.For example, if the house is valued at $300,000, the insurance company may provide personal property coverage up to $30,000.

But if a man cave is elaborately decked out with a huge television, stereo system, electronic games or bar equipment (items that would come with price tags in the thousands), a homeowner may need additional personal property coverage for those items.

“Some people invest a significant amount of money in their man caves, so you need to make sure those things are coverage if something catastrophic happens,” Nicklay says.

The cost of additional insurance for personal property is going to vary significantly depending on how much extra coverage a homeowner needs to buy and where he or she lives. But Nicklay says a good rule of thumb is to assume that an additional $20,000 in coverage will usually cost between $200 and $300 a year.

Create an inventory

According to Tom Simeone, a law professor in Washington, D.C. who specializes in insurance, homeowners should create a detailed inventory of the personal property contained in the man cave. So when it’s time to get a quote, the insurance agent will know exactly how much money is invested in the room and whether or not additional coverage is needed.

“An inventory is also a great thing to have if an accident takes place,” Simeone says. “If you have receipts and photographs of these items, you can provide a clear list of damages when filing a claim. This is especially true for hi-tech items. If you can’t document them properly, you may not be able to recover their value if they’re damaged or destroyed.”

Is the cave connected to the house?

Most homeowner’s insurance policies provide a fixed percentage of coverage for “other structures,” which usually include mailboxes, sheds and other structures not connected to the house. According to Nicklay, the percentage is usually around 10 percent of the cost to replace the house.

So, for example, if you have a $200,000 house all “other structures” would be covered up to a total of $20,000.

“The problem is, some of these man caves can’t be replaced for just $20,000,” Nicklay says . “I had a client once who converted his two-car garage into a seriously decked out man cave, and there’s no way $20,000 would have been enough to replace it.”

If your man cave isn’t attached to the house, Nicklay suggests mentioning this to your agent and discussing whether or not you need to buy additional coverage. Again, prices on additional coverage will vary, but Nicklay says that a detached garage worth $50,000 in Minnesota will cost about $250 per year to insure.

Think about the liability

Chances are high that the average man cave contains some alcohol – many man caves contain full-blown bars. This also means the chances are pretty high that the homeowner will invite friends over to enjoy some alcoholic beverages. And this is where liability insurance may come into play.

“If an owner serves alcohol to a guest, that may increase both the odds of an accident and the severity of the resulting damages,” Simeone says. “If you plan on serving alcohol, be sure to increase your liability coverage to the max.”

Also, if you serve alcohol to a guest, who then crashes his car while over the legal blood alcohol limit, you could be on the hook for the damages. This is known as social host liability. Social host liability laws vary from state to state.

Jim Kuryak, a New York-based insurance agent recommends that man cave owners get an umbrella policy. It provides $1,000,000 or $2,000,000 in additional liability coverage to both your auto and home policies for a typically reasonable price – usually between $100 and $200 a year.

“Between the alcohol, rough-housing, and games that man caves often involve, increased liability coverage is vital,” Kuryak says. “You want to enjoy the man cave, not worry about whether or not you have the right amount of insurance.”

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