As we mentioned in our blog, 5 Simple & Cost Friendly Home Improvement Ideas, your garden is your home’s “first impression”. It sets the mood for everyone who enters your home (including yourself) and increases your property’s value. But what happens if this labor of love is jeopardized? Is it protected under your homeowner’s policy?
As the “face” of your home, your garden is also at the forefront of potential perils such as wind damage, hurricanes, vandalism and so on. Most policies offer limited coverage for landscaping, severely limited.
Generally this restricted coverage includes plants, trees, lawns and shrubs in the case of fire, lightening, explosion, riot or civil commotion, vandalism and theft, and damage caused by automobiles or aircraft not owned or used by the policy owner. Generally what is NOT covered is damage caused by pests, wind or weather conditions, which is unfortunate since the latter can cause quite a lot of damage to your landscaping.
The language of your policy’s landscaping coverage is somewhat tricky as well. In some cases your landscape may only be covered if the actual structure of your home is damaged by said peril as well. On top of these specifications, most policies also have a strict per-item/per-incident cap.
Sadly most homeowners find out about these limitations too late, which is why we’d like to bring you a few points to consider NOW.
Take a look at your policy and find out exactly what your landscaping coverage includes. Look out for details like the cost of removing fallen trees as well as reimbursing the cost to replace them. Check that your landscape installations (i.e. fish ponds, lighting, ornaments and benches) are covered as well. These expensive items may fall into a low per-item category or may not be covered at all!
So how do you protect this investment from potential damage?
The first step would be to evaluate what your landscaping is worth. Talk to a professional about how much it would cost to not only replace your cherished garden, but how much it would cost to clean it up as well in the case of damage.
Be sure to keep detailed records of your landscaping costs. Take inventory of your plants, structures and infrastructure (i.e. an irrigation system). If you use a professional service ask them for detailed receipts. If you’re a do-it-yourself landscaper keep a detailed plant list, receipts and photos of your landscaping as well. Take close up photos of the plants which are particularly valuable (i.e. heirloom, hybrid and ornamental plants and trees).
It’s important to know not only how much it had cost to plant these items but how much it would cost to replace them as well. For example the cost of a mature tree substitute is a more expensive than it had cost you to plant that tree 15 years ago before it had started to bare fruit.
Finally, talk to your insurance agent about your landscaping insurance needs and buy additional coverage accordingly.