We all know what to do if our home is broken into or flood damaged, but what about our gardens? Yes, garden insurance is a thing, though you might unknowingly already have it. So are you covered? And if so, how do you go about making a claim? We're here to tell you all you need to know about claiming on your garden insurance.
Why Garden Insurance?
If you own or rent, the chances are that you've got home insurance. For most of us, this is simply common sense. However, what about your garden? A recent survey from the Halifax building society suggests that the average UK garden contains around £2000 worth of furniture and accessories. That figure can be even higher if you have garden buildings like sheds or constructions like log stores and bin stores.
And let's face it, gardens are easy targets for thieves. It's unlikely that your garden is secured as well as your home. Plus, your garden is, of course, at the mercy of the elements, so flooding, storm damage and even wind damage are a factor here too. The famous storms that blasted the UK in 1987 cost insurance companies around £2 billion and the floods of 2007 had an even higher bill at £3 billion. The simple fact is that gardens are an investment, an investment that's not well protected, and an investment that deserves to be safeguarded with insurance!
So I Need Specific Garden Insurance?
Many UK insurance companies do sell specific garden insurance policies. However, you might not need one of these. Your first step should be to check your homeowner's or renter's insurance policy. In many cases, home insurance also covers property in your back and front gardens and even in the garage. You'll need to ensure that these areas are SPECIFICALLY covered in your policy. If they're not mentioned by name, you're not covered. In this case, you should enquire about adding your garden to your current policy or buying an additional specific garden insurance policy.
Whilst many homeowner's policies do cover garden damage they generally only cover damage up to a certain financial amount, it's up to you to decide whether your garden is worth more than this limit. If you decide the policy limit is too low, you'll need to buy additional garden insurance.
What Should Be Covered?
When it comes to your garden pretty much everything should be covered! It's best to call your insurance company and ask directly about what is covered, or to ask before buying a garden insurance policy. In general, this is what you should expect to be covered by your policy:
- Garden constructions such as sheds, greenhouses, log stores, etc.,
- Theft of property, tools, garden ornaments, etc.,
- Natural disasters or “Acts of God,” such as flooding, wind, hail, or storm damage to property,
- Damage caused by falling trees or debris (even if those trees were not planted on your property, belonging to neighbours, for example).
When it comes to the cost of plants, shrubs, trees and general landscaping costs, most policies will cover a basic amount (say a limit of £1000, for example). In most cases this is enough, but should you have rare, exotic or more expensive flora in your garden it's best to ask your insurance company about a higher limit or a more specific landscaping insurance policy.
Policies vary widely on what they cover and the amounts they cover. While one policy may cover £1000 of equipment stored in a shed as long as it's locked and a further £500 of property in the garden itself, another policy may have the exact opposite. Unlike home insurance policies which tend to be very similar, both specific garden insurance and garden insurance covered in a homeowner's policy tend to be very, very different. The onus is on you to check your policy and decide if it is right for you! Obviously, you want to do this BEFORE you need to make a claim, so now would be a good time to dig out that home insurance contract and check to see what is and isn't covered in your garden!
How and When to Claim
The process of making a claim on your garden insurance is actually quite easy. If your garden has been damaged by weather or even vandals, or if a thief has stolen property from your garden, all you need to do is call your insurance company to begin the process. Your policy should clearly state a claims number for you to call (or the company website will do so), and you'll need your policy number (found at the top of your policy) in order to begin. The company should lead you through the process, but there is something important that you must remember:
Always call your insurance company BEFORE attempting any cleanup, repairs, or any other action that will interfere with what has already happened to your property.
This is because, in the case of a large claim, or a claim that strikes the company as odd, your insurance company may want to send out a loss adjuster to check on the circumstances. It is best if you have not moved or changed anything in your garden before this, since it may affect your claim. The exception to this, of course, is if there is any further danger. A fallen tree, for example, may need to be removed to stop it falling further and damaging your home or passersby. If this is the case, you should document your action with plenty of photos that you can use for evidence!
In the case of theft, you may need a police report in order to proceed with your claim. However, it's a good idea to call the police if someone has been on your property anyway, so getting a report should be no problem. Simply ask the responding officer for a copy of the report and for the case number (in case you need an extra copy at a later date).
Garden insurance may not be something that you often consider, but if anything happens to your property, you'll be glad that you have it! Giving you peace of mind and ensuring that you're not out of pocket should the worst happen, garden insurance is a great investment!