Home insurance is designed to protect you financially if your home is damaged or destroyed. But does home insurance cover landscaping? Will an insurance company pay to replace your lawn, garden, trees, shrubs and other outdoor features in your yard? The answer is yes, as long as the damage is due to a covered peril. Here, we’ll detail what constitutes a covered peril, tell you how much insurance you can expect to pay, and let you know what insurance options are available if your landscaping is unusually ornate.
When does home insurance cover landscaping and yard damage?
A standard home insurance policy covers damage to landscaping when caused by a covered peril. Covered risks include items such as:
- Damage to landscaping caused by someone else’s vehicle
Let’s say someone steals several bushes or drives their vehicle into your front yard and causes damage. Typically, home insurance coverage protects against these losses. In fact, many of the perils you’ve protected your home from — like fire, lightning, and vandalism — extend to your garden.
The big exception is weather-related damage. Landscaping losses caused by wind, hail, frost, heavy snow, ice and flooding are generally not covered. The same applies to damage caused by pests, insects or diseases. Among these exceptions, you can plan for flooding by purchasing a separate flood insurance policy.
How much landscaping damage is covered by home insurance?
When landscaping damage is due to a covered peril, the insurer bases the amount it will pay on the habitation limit. Let’s say you have a house with a housing limit of $300,000. This is the amount the insurance company will cover if the house is destroyed and needs to be rebuilt.
Most insurance policies cover landscaping damage up to 5% of the total dwelling limit. In the case of a house with a residential limit of $300,000, an insurer would pay up to $15,000 for landscaping losses ($300,000 x 0.05 = $15,000).
Coverage limits for landscaping and yard damage
However, an insurance company will not just write a check for 5% of the total housing limit. Most insurers have caps on what they will pay. For example, a business can cap the amount it will pay for cutting down a tree or shrub at $500 or $1,000. Every piece of landscaping has a different ceiling, so the homeowner may not end up with 100% of the money they need to get their yard back to where it was.
The precise limits and caps of cover vary by insurer, making it especially important for those with well-laid-out yards to check their policy details before peril arises. It can also pay to check the average local cost for a variety of landscaping jobs. For example, you may find that the cost of tree removal is much higher than what your current policy will cover, or that the insurance coverage is insufficient to replace the thousands of dollars you have spent on plants. and the flowers.
It’s also important to remember that you’ll have to pay your deductible before the insurer steps in to pay the rest of the bill and determine if a claim is worth it in the long run. Let’s say you have $10,000 in damages with a $500 deductible. In this case, making a claim is an easy decision. However, if the repairs cost $1,000 and you have a $500 deductible, you may want to pay out of pocket rather than file a claim. The fewer claims an owner has on file, the lower their annual premiums.
Additional coverage options for yards and gardens
Homeowners who have invested thousands of dollars in creating intricate and breathtaking landscape designs have the option of increasing the level of coverage in their home insurance policy. This is called a “yard and garden approval”. Although a yard and garden endorsement does not change the total amount an insurer will pay to repair or replace damaged landscaping, it does increase the caps put in place by the insurer.
Let’s say a neighbor’s house catches fire and the fire spreads through your yard. By the time the fire is out, trees, bushes, flowers and landscaping materials are destroyed. If your policy caps the replacement cost of each tree and bush at $500, a yard and garden endorsement would increase that amount to $1,000.
A rider does more than increase plant coverage ceilings. It also extends coverage of landscaping tools and machinery on the property. That way, if things like lawnmowers, leaf blowers, or other tools are damaged, there’s more coverage available to replace those items.
Steps to follow
If you’re worried about what would happen if your landscaping was destroyed, the following steps can ensure you have the level of protection you’re most comfortable with:
- Check your existing policy to make sure landscaping is covered. If it’s covered, check for things your home insurance might not cover, such as pre-existing issues.
- Determine how much coverage you have and decide if it’s enough to replace your landscaping.
- Call your insurer to find out if they offer a yard and garden endorsement.
- If your current insurer does not offer this endorsement or if the amount of coverage provided is not enough to repair or replace the landscaping, shop around for an insurance company that offers more.
- If you are able to purchase a rider, expect to pay an additional $50 to $100 per year for the additional coverage.
Since the average homeowner spends between $100 and $200 per month on landscaping, it makes sense to insure this investment just like they insure their home.