Gardens at risk as insurance has not kept pace with modern tastes

Two years of lockdowns and increased working from home, has seen people invest thousands in their outdoor spaces.

However, insurance cover for gardens has not increased in line with this, according to new analysis by financial information experts and ratings providers, Defaqto.

Garden sofas, hot tubs and summer houses have soared in popularity since 2020, and now many gardens are fit for a royal visit.

Yet, according to Defaqto, not all home insurance covers contents left in the garden. One out of 10 policies (10%) has no cover for contents left in the garden, such as furniture, barbecues, or children’s play equipment.

Of the policies that do include cover, many have low limits for items left in the garden, as outdoor space cannot be secured in the same way a home is. Given that cover is typically for £1,000 or even less, leaving expensive garden furniture in the garden could be a costly mistake.

Cover for contents left in the open:

Contents in the OpenNo. of Products% of Products
No cover3510%
£250-£5003510%
£600-£750154%
£1,00011734%
£1,500-£2,0005616%
£2,500-£3,0004212%
£5,000 or more4613%
Total345100%

One way to protect your garden furniture from thieves is to secure items in a shed or outbuilding when not in use. Most (97%) home insurance policies cover items stored in outbuildings against damage, although cover levels can be low. 

One in six policies (17%) give cover between £250 and £2,000. Some policies offer cover for either the total value of items in outbuildings or a percentage of the contents sum insured, so it’s really important to make sure you know the true value of items left in outbuildings and check your policy. 

This is especially important for those that keep large appliances (such as freezers), ride-on lawnmowers or pricey tools in an outbuilding or garage.

It’s also important to make sure you lock outbuildings and garages at the end of the day.  One in six policies (18%) don’t cover anything if it is stolen while your outbuildings aren’t locked. 

Insurance policies that cover gardens will usually include loss or damage caused by fire or theft, but will normally exclude damage by storm or flood. 

This is a fairly universal exclusion, as storm damage is so common. When it comes to fences, walls, gates and hedges, gardeners and homeowners may well find themselves footing the bill for damage to these garden boundaries. 

Most policies will only provide cover if they are damaged by a flying or falling object such as falling branches or trees.  They will not be covered should the damage be caused by storm, flood, or frost.

Brian Brown, consumer finance expert at Defaqto, said: “A few years ago, most people would have just had a barbecue and patio set in their garden, with possibly some sun loungers and a slide. No one had heard of ‘garden sofas’ and hot tubs were just for reality TV stars.

“Today, it is not unusual for people to have £10,000 worth of contents in the garden as they really have become an extension of our indoor living spaces.

“Unfortunately, gardens usually offer little, to no protection from thieves and the elements. Because of this, insurance cover is often limited and gardeners could find themselves left out of pocket should something happen.

“It is wise to keep this in mind when buying anything you intend to leave outside. If you have expensive items in the garden, check with your insurer to make sure you have appropriate cover in place and minimise the risk by locking it away or securing it to the building whenever possible.”

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