16 October 2015

The grass is greener with home insurance

Expensive garden ornaments may not be your thing, but many of us do not stop to consider whether our home insurance policy covers tools, garden furniture, sports equipment – and even turf – from green-fingered thieves.

Taking stock of your garden

Whether you’re a keen gardener or simply a backyard barbequer, have you considered whether everything in your garden is insured against theft, loss and damage?

Many homeowners don’t realise just how valuable their outdoor living areas are. But with home insurance you could be covered for both contents in the garden and the plants and turf as well.

Get an idea of the money tied up in your  garden. Cast an eye over your outside space and assess the value of everything you see, including:

  • Hedges, plants, trees and turf
  • Fixed structures such as walls, fences, gates, garden sheds and greenhouses
  • Patio furniture, barbeques and outdoor heaters
  • Garden toys, including playhouses, climbing frames and trampolines
  • Plant pots and containers, hanging baskets, water features and birdbaths
  • Contents stored in a shed, such as lawnmowers, bikes and golf clubs

Crime on the rise

Garden crime is increasing and peaks in the summer months, according to thecrimepreventionwebsite.com. While garden tools and furniture can be kept safe by storing them in a locked shed, greenery and landscaping features are ripe pickings for thieves. Potted plants, hanging baskets, paving stones and even newly laid lawns are on the list of items regularly reported as stolen to insurers.

“Between summer and autumn there tends to be a spate of lawn thefts, after people have had new turf put down. This is quite common and can be covered under your home insurance policy,” explains Nationwide Product Manager Darren Black.

Know your home insurance policy

You might assume that everything outside your house isn’t covered by your regular house insurance. But most standard buildings insurance and contents insurance policies do in fact include some insurance cover for garden accessories.

Walls, fences, hedges, gates, patios and sheds are usually covered by buildings insurance, while your contents insurance will most likely provide cover for items such as tools, equipment and bikes stored in a locked shed or outbuilding. However there are likely to be limits on this, so check your policy carefully to ascertain whether you have adequate cover.

Moveable objects typically left out in the open – such as barbeques and patio furniture – might be covered to a certain value, or not at all. The same applies to plants, trees and turf. Do read the small print on your policy, especially if you have valuable transferrable items.

And, even if your household insurance policy covers theft from your garden and damage to outdoor assets, insurers will expect you to take steps to prevent losses. Avoid displaying valuable ornaments and plants in the front garden, where they are visible and vulnerable. Keep side gates locked and ensure your walls and hedges provide an adequate deterrent.

Things to consider

The level of cover for storm, flood and subsidence is another consideration. Your home insurance policy might, for example, cover fixtures such as patios, walls and fences in the event of subsidence, but only if the house itself has also been damaged.

It’s unlikely that your insurer will cover damage through wear and tear, storms or floods. Damage or loss caused by pets, or through lack of maintenance and care, is usually excluded too.

Specialist cover

If you’re a particularly proud gardener with valuable plants or precious ornaments, you might consider additional cover for prized items, or specialist garden insurance cover.

For details about Nationwide products take a look at our Home insurance pages. You can also get a Home insurance quote in less than 10 minutes – we’ll help make sure your cherished outdoor space is sufficiently covered.

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