Check your garden is covered as the heatwave rolls on

29 June 2018

Enthusiastic gardeners are being urged to check how much cover their home insurance provides for their garden, as the latest run of good weather looks set to continue.

According to research from financial data provider Defaqto, over a third (34%) of policies do not provide any cover for plants. It is only provided as standard on around half of policies, while a further 14% offer it as an optional add on.

Where plant cover is included on home contents policy, it can be for as little as £350. Defaqto points out that with the average garden costing £7,000 to landscape, green-fingered homeowners could find themselves out of pocket if plants are stolen or damaged.

The financial information provider’s analysis found that only one standard policy  - M&S Bank Premier – offered unlimited cover for plants. Policies from Chubb, Horizon, and Saga offer cover equal to 5% of the property’s total sum assured.

Exactly what form cover takes can vary between policies too. While some policies only cover theft, others may extend to vandalism or damage by storm and flooding.

With 21million homeowners having at least one outbuilding in their garden, be it a shed, summer house, or home office – it’s also worth checking how well covered they are by your home insurance.

The majority of policies do protect items stored in these buildings against damage. However, under three quarters (75%) of policies, cover is either provided as a percentage of the total sum insured or the total value of the items. So it’s essential that policyholders provide their insurer with realistic valuations. This is particularly important if you store expensive tools, large appliances – such as freezers – or computers in your outbuildings. Defaqto only found six policies that provided unlimited cover for items stored in outbuildings.

Most policies will insure these items against theft – but while some plans will offer the total value of the content’s sum insured, others only provide cover of £500. M&S Bank and Cherish Insurance are the only providers to offer unlimited cover.

Make sure you lock any outbuildings too – in 15% of policies, items won’t be covered if it becomes clear that they were unlocked at the time of the theft.

As the heatwave continues and more of us spend more time in our gardens it is also worth checking what items left in the open are covered. This could include patio furniture, barbecues, children’s toys, paddling pools and bikes. One in 10 (9%) policies do not provide any cover for items left out in the open.

However once again cover levels will vary. While 70% will cover £1,000, or more, the remainder cover less. Some insurers will also distinguish between items that would usually be kept outside, such as garden furniture, and those that would normally be put away, including bikes, lawnmowers and toys.

Brian Brown, head of insight at Defaqto says: “Gardening is a favourite pastime of green-fingered individuals up and down the country, with gardeners reaping the health benefits of spending time pottering around their lawns. However, it’s important to understand that your garden, plants, furniture and outbuildings with contents may not be covered in the event of damage or theft.  

“Thankfully, by taking a little time and care to research the market and the options available, gardeners can ensure that their gardens, along with outbuildings and contents, can be covered on their contents insurance. Given the high value of such items as lawnmowers and patio furniture, it’s crucial that gardeners take care to accurately assess the value of all items in their gardens and outbuildings and, if asked, disclose this value to their insurance providers to ensure that they are fully covered in the event of damage, loss or theft.”

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