Are you sure your home insurance covers the garden too?

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The summer’s a time when Brits go a little garden crazy; buying expensive plants, hot tubs and stylish garden furniture, and forgetting to lock away valuable bicycles, lawn mowers and gardening equipment in garages and sheds. Gardening tips

Sadly, it’s also the time of year when thieves and vandals are most likely to merrily romp through gardens stealing things and causing damage to buildings and property.

But many homeowners are risking losing thousands by not realising their home insurance isn’t sufficient for the type of outside space they have and what they keep in it.

One in five victims of garden crime

Recent findings show that 20%, or one in five, homeowners with gardens have experienced theft from or vandalism in their outside space.

Despite this, more than half the people surveyed  by Policy Expert (61%) don’t know if they’re covered for items kept outdoors, either in the open air or in sheds and other outbuildings. Part of the problem is that many standard policies don’t provide the level or type of cover many garden-loving Brits need.

Risking thousands of pounds

If you do have a garden, the potential cost of not having cover can be high. New research by MoneySuperMarket shows that the average British shed contains a host of valuable goodies with an average value of nearly £2,000.

As insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, Kevin Pratt, points out “Our garages are increasingly being used for home offices, gyms, and to store equipment such as hand tools and lawn mowers, all worth a fair amount”.

And it’s not only sheds and outbuildings that homeowners keep valuable items in. The garden space itself contains, on average, £1,233 worth of items such as hammocks, ornaments and garden furniture.

Average London garden ‘worth’ £4,188

Those lucky enough to have gardens in London tend to spend the most, splashing out an average of £4,188 on items kept in an outside space.

But Tim Downes, insurance expert at Lloyds, points out “It’s a false economy to invest in luxury garden items without ensuring they’re covered”.

Many policies too limited

Unfortunately, many people think they have enough cover for their gardens when they don’t. They fail to realise that many policies provide very little cover for contents kept outside, or even none at all in the case of the very cheapest policies.

As Mark Greening at GoCompare says “The majority of contents insurance policies provide limited cover for garden contents such as furniture, BBQs, paddling pools.”

Claim limits not high enough

Greening indicates that even for those that only keep items of relatively low value outside, many policies won’t have high enough claim limits.

Typically, protection is limited to between £500 and £1,000 for gardens. Plants in particular are often singled out; cover limits can be as low as £200 for shrubs, flowers, trees and other types of flora.

Check you’re correctly covered

If you have quality garden furniture, plants and accessories in an outside space or outbuildings, or perhaps have converted a shed or garage into a home office, or some other type of extra ‘room’, you need to check closely that you’re sufficiently covered.

Garden claim limits should be in your policy details, but call your insurance broker or insurance provider if you’re at all unsure. Also look out for key clauses; such as requirements that bicycles are locked away in garages or sheds, or garden furniture is taken in at night.

Extra cover shouldn’t cost more

You can usually increase cover limits quite simply for just a few pounds.

However, this often depends on how much extra cover, and what type, you want; if you grow very rare and valuable orchids, for example, or have valuable design equipment in a garden office worth £20,000, you might need to pay a considerable amount more, or seek additional and completely separate cover.

Policy Expert

If your home is your haven, you’ll want it to have the best protection. Compare home insurance quotes from our range of handpicked insurers and tailor a policy to suit you. For more information on Home Insurance from Policy Expert, speak to one of our experts on 0330 0600 600 or email ask@policyexpert.co.uk

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.