In Hot Water: Are Hot Tubs Personal Property or Other Structures?

An insured’s hot tub is located outside their house on a brick patio. The homeowners policy does not specifically address or define “hot tub,” but the carrier says it falls under Coverage B – Other Structures. The carrier also says that because the hot tub is not a building, it will only be covered on an actual cash value basis.

Q: Is a hot tub considered personal property or an other structure? Does the answer depend on the carrier?

Response 1: Hot tubs are treated like pools—other structures. To fix the ACV issue, attach form HO 04 43 – Replacement Cost Loss Settlement for Certain Non-Building Structures on the Residence Premises.

Response 2: Depending on their location and how they're installed, hot tubs can be covered under Coverage A – Dwelling, Coverage B – Other Structures, or Coverage C – Personal Property.

If the hot tub is attached to the dwelling by more than a utility connection, it should be  Coverage A. If it's attached to an other structure, it's likely Coverage B. If it's a standalone item, there's a good argument that it's Coverage C. Even in real estate transactions, though, this is a gray area that must be specifically addressed in the purchase and sale agreement.

Response 3: The answer depends on the type of hot tub and how it’s installed. Assuming the hot tub is are located permanently and is unattached to the residence, it should generally fall under Coverage B – Other Structures.

If the coverage is written on ISO form HO 00 03 05 11, or a form with the same or similar provisions, the carrier is abiding by the loss settlement language:

Property of the following types: a. Personal property; b. Awnings, carpeting, household appliances, outdoor antennas and outdoor equipment, whether or not attached to buildings; c. Structures that are not buildings; and d. Grave markers, including mausoleums; at actual cash value at the time of loss but not more than the amount required to repair or replace.

Response 4: I searched the Big “I” Virtual University for "hot tubs" and found a few relevant articles:

Response 5: I would probably call this personal property, but the carrier obviously feels differently. It might come down to the hot tub’s portability. In other words, can the insured take the hot tub with them if they move? Or is it structurally affixed to the patio?

If it’s personal property, there is good news and bad news. You can get replacement cost coverage, but if it’s on form HO-3, the causes of loss are limited to named perils. Ask the carrier if they have an endorsement to provide replacement cost coverage for structures that aren’t buildings.

Response 6: The hot tub is covered under Coverage B and is subject to ACV less deductible.

Response 7: It depends on whether the hot tub is movable, which personal property typically is, or built-in and non-movable. In part, it also depends on the insurer. This question is similar to debates about swing sets and other outdoor equipment. Ask if the insurer will schedule it to provide the desired coverage.

This question was originally submitted by an agent through the VU’s Ask an Expert Service, with responses curated from multiple VU faculty members. Answers to other coverage questions are available on the VU website. If you need help accessing the website, request login information.