As the days get longer, many people are opening up their gardens ready for the better weather ahead. But Gocompare.com Home Insurance is warning householders not to assume their gardens’ contents are automatically covered by their home insurance.
The comparison website reviewed over 340 home contents over 330 buildings insurance policies* which revealed a wide variation in cover, limits and restrictions:
Home contents insurance
‘Contents in the open’ (provides cover for loss or damage to contents left outside but within the boundaries of your home – moveable items such as patio furniture, BBQs, garden planters and ornaments and lawnmowers):
- 8% of policies don’t cover items left outside in your garden.
- Maximum limits vary widely from as little as £250 to £15,000 while other policies don’t set a limit. 61% of policies provide ‘contents in the open’ cover of between £500 and £1,000.
- 11% exclude cover for bicycles left in the garden. Of those covering bikes, 9 policies only pay-out a total of between £250 to 500 for bikes.
Belongings left in outbuildings including garages:
While 97% of policies provide cover there is a huge variation in pay-outs, with some offering as little as £500. Most policies (68%) provide cover up to your contents sum insured – but insurers generally limit the amount payable for theft related claims.
Plants in the garden
46% of policies cover plants as standard, while 18% only offer cover as an optional extra and 36% exclude cover.
Of those policies which provide cover, pay-out limits range from £350 up to the contents sum insured. However, some policies state a lower payment limit per plant, for example, a policy may have a £1,000 total ‘plants in the garden’ limit but only pay out £250 for a single plant.
Garden contents (hedges, lawns, trees, shrubs and plants):
A fifth of buildings insurance policies provide cover as standard, 12% as an optional extra, 68% exclude cover.
Of those policies covering garden contents cover limits vary from £500 to £25,000 with some expressing the limit as a percentage of the sum insured.
55% of policies provide cover for landscaping needed as a result of an insured incident such as fire or vandalism.
Storm damage to fences:
Only 2 policies cover storm damage to fences.
Ben Wilson, from Gocompare.com home insurance, said:
“Many people see their gardens as an extension of their living space, investing a lot of time and money in their ‘outdoor rooms’. When you start adding up the cost of garden furniture, BBQs, potted plants, and outdoor toys – even the average garden can house several hundred pounds worth of items. But, many people don’t think about the value and security of their garden contents in the same way as they do about their homes. For many the only protection they have from opportunist thieves is a bolted garden gate.
“So, we’re urging householder to dig out their home insurance details to check what cover they have for their gardens. While many home buildings and contents insurance policies include a degree of cover, the amount and level of cover varies hugely between policies. So, people need to think carefully about the value of their outdoor possessions and make sure that they have the insurance cover they need – comparing policy features as well as prices. If the contents of your garden are particularly valuable you may find that you need to top-up your insurance or buy additional garden cover. Assuming you’re covered could be an expensive mistake.”
Five tips from Gocompare.com Home Insurance to help secure your garden and its contents from unwanted visitors:
- Keep boundary hedges and fences in good order to keep them secure – this will help deter opportunistic thieves. Consider defensive planting of prickly shrubs or hedges;
- Where practical, keep outdoor possessions in a locked shed or garage;
- Install security lighting;
- Secure expensive plants with wire pegs dug into the ground around the root ball;
- Use a security pen to mark valuable items that are left in the open (garden furniture, ornaments and trampolines for example) with your postcode.