Garden insurance: Huge cost of undervaluing garden possessions

Few people appreciate the actual value of items stored in summer houses, sheds and outbuildings. But when asked to replace – the cost soon tots up!
Beautiful decked garden - garden insurance

Did you know in 2021 we spent around £18.6 billion on our gardens? That’s around £678 per person (Statista). That is an enormous sum, yet few of us check our home insurance policies to make sure that we are adequately covered with garden insurance. 

To give you an idea of where that money was spent and why you ought to check your level of insurance cover, the Stihl Garden Census found that on average £241 was on garden renovations, £180 on garden accessories, while £140 was spent on garden tools. 

Many of us have taken our indoor comforts outdoors. During the lockdown when indoor gatherings were illegal (for some), many took the opportunity to create outdoor spaces that allowed for friends and family to meet in comfort and not surprisingly these have become an easy target for thieves. 

Sweet pea and pergola - garden insurance
Most insurance policies will pay out to replace plants and garden structures.

Even though spending has dropped back to a more modest £168 per person, that’s an awful lot of expensive furniture, plants and garden tools. What would it cost to buy a like-for-like replacement? Home and contents insurance doesn’t always cover your garden as standard, there are policies that offer some cover for your garden but it is unlikely to put much of a dent in your losses should the worst happen.

What is garden insurance?

Strictly speaking, garden insurance is not a separate policy. Instead, it makes up part of your buildings or contents insurance but can be upgraded to offer greater protection as an optional add-on.

What your insurance will cover, however, depends on the type of home insurance policy you own. Your premiums can cover buildings, contents, or both buildings and contents but the degree to which they protect your outdoor space varies between insurers.

If you haven’t already, check the terms of your policy to find out what’s covered.

expensive garden tools - garden insurance
Keep high-cost items such as lawnmowers locked away to help reduce your premiums.

What affects insurance premiums?

There are several things that influence the premiums of your insurance. In the UK, the following factors are considered:

Garden size and value: The size and value of your garden and its contents can affect your premiums. Larger and more valuable gardens may have higher premiums.

Location: Crime rate and weather in your area can influence the cost. For example, if you live in an area that is at risk of flooding, your premiums will be higher.

Security: Maintaining security features such as gates, fences, outdoor lighting and alarm systems can help lower your premiums. Ensuring all outbuildings have secure locks can also help.

Claims history: If you have a history of past claims, this can impact the premiums you’ll pay. A record of frequent claims may result in higher premiums.

How to choose the right garden insurance policy

When choosing your insurance policy, consider the following:

Coverage limits: Ensure that the policy provides adequate coverage for the value of your garden and its assets.

Exclusions: Carefully review the policy’s exclusions to understand what risks are not covered. Look for policies with fewer exclusions to avoid nasty surprises.

Premiums and costs: Be aware of what is on the market. Shop around and don’t renew just because it is easy. CompareTheMarket is a good place to start to find a policy that offers suitable coverage at a reasonable cost. Request quotes and consider any additional fees.

Customer reviews: Reputation and customer satisfaction mean a lot. Read reviews and ratings to assess how other people found the service offered by the insurer. Choose a provider with good customer feedback. However, don’t just take their word for it, check sites such as Trustpilot.

Does home insurance cover items left in the garden?

When it comes to protecting your garden and its contents, understanding your home insurance coverage is essential. While many home insurance policies provide some level of garden cover, it’s important to understand the specifics of what is and is not included when taking out a policy.

When it comes to items that are usually kept indoors but happen to be left in the garden, it’s important to note that you may not have any cover at all. Home insurance policies often require these items to be stored safely indoors for coverage to apply.
For instance, if the grandkids leave your tablet in the garden overnight, or worse still, drop it on the patio, your home insurance may not pay out to replace it.

In such cases, you would be considered partly responsible and your policy may not provide coverage. Be careful and review the details of your policy and understand the requirements in your cover.

Permanent outdoor fixtures, such as furniture and barbecues often have lower coverage limits due to the higher risk of theft or damage. Your insurer may offer coverage on these items but it is unlikely to total more than £250. Items secured in a locked shed or outbuilding typically receive higher coverage, but again, weigh the value of your property against the cover offered and consider upgrading as an add-on.

outdoor building - garden insurance.
Garden insurance: Buildings erected after you took out your policy might not be covered.

What is not included in the garden cover offered with home insurance?

Home insurance exclusions can vary depending on your policy and provider. Some common exclusions you may find in your policy include:

  • Indoor items and valuables left outdoors
  • Items exceeding the per-item limit
  • Outbuildings not disclosed when buying your policy
  • Contents stolen from outbuildings that aren’t locked or show no signs of forced entry
  • Extreme weather damage
  • Plants not in pots (planted in the ground)

Who covers what?

Despite having made a significant investment in your outdoor space, you might not be aware that that shiny Weber Spirit II gas burner barbecue and your comfy charcoal Zara garden sofa are not fully insured because many insurance providers place limits on garden coverage. Gardens are covered under home insurance and some, such as Churchill Insurance will provide cover of £2000 for items left in the open. While LV= will pay £1500 or £10,000 for customers on the Home Plus policy.

However, as spending on gardens has been rising, more insurers have been increasing the level of cover they offer. Nationwide’s household insurance offers up to £750 for the contents of your garden as standard, but this can be raised to £5000 by adding their Garden Cover extra. Saga also offers enhanced cover through its Saga Plus product up to £5000 for gardens but does not seem to include outbuildings, fences, gates or ride-on mowers and their accessories.

It’s worth pointing out that locking things away gives extra financial protection. For example, some providers will offer insurance protection for a bicycle up to the value of £2000 if it is locked away in an outbuilding or garage but will not cover it if left in the garden – even if secured to an immovable object.

Underinsurance ignorance

Underwriters claim that between 70 and 80% of us are underinsured when it comes to contents insurance. The cost of being underinsured when something significant happens can be financially catastrophic, so it’s worth checking with your insurer to see if you need to list some items separately.

Often we forget to add newly bought expensive garden items to our contents insurance and before you realise it, you’re drastically underinsured and, in the event of having to make a claim, you could find that you are simply not covered.

Although the number of household burglaries has fallen over the past decade, as we have improved home security, there are new avenues that thieves exploit and they will happily clear out your garden possessions while you sleep.

security lighting - garden insurance
Maintaining good security around your property can reduce the cost of your insurance policies.

10 top tips to protect your garden

  1. Photograph valuable garden items and keep receipts.
  2. Tell your insurer when you buy new expensive items.
  3. If you open windows, keep handbags and valuables out of sight.
  4. If it’s moveable either bolt it to the ground or lock it up. Keep large items such as statues and pot plants near the house and tie them or weigh them down.
  5. Fit British Standard quality window locks and lock windows when you are out.
  6. Also, fit quality locks to garages and garden sheds. Lock valuable items away such as tools and lawnmowers in a garage or outbuilding.
  7. Install security lights in the garden and alarms
  8. Ensure your shed and outbuildings have good secure locks.

If you found Garden insurance: The high cost of unvalueing your garden possessions helpful, you’ll find more tips for safeguarding your home on our Finance channel.

Images: Sweet peas and pergola by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Tags: , Last modified: July 16, 2023

Written by 3:40 pm Gardening