We have some tall mature trees in our garden, and I’m worried they may fall on the house in a storm – but is this kind of thing covered in our homeowner’s policy?
Your homeowner’s insurance should cover a portion of repairs to a damaged yard, trees, plants, and shrubs, plus outbuildings, fences, or driveways. Most policies give 5% protection of your total policy limit, so if your home is worth $350,000 you could get $17,500 with a $500 cap on single items.
Let’s dig down into this subject in more detail, and discover what exactly your homeowner’s policy covers when it comes to landscaping damage…
Is Damage To My Yard & Garden Covered By My Homeowners Insurance?
Your residence is more than merely a roof to keep the rain off of your head. Your home and yard offer a haven of relaxation, making lush green surroundings as important to the ambiance as décor on the interior.
So when your yard or garden sustains damage, it affects your home’s visual appeal, mood, and value, not to mention it usually makes for quite a lot of work to fix.
Fortunately, homeowners insurance policies typically cover some portion of repairs to a damaged yard, trees, plants, and shrubs, as well as to surrounding structures like a shed, fence, or even driveway. As you might expect, coverage depends on a few factors like cause and cost limits.
Most homeowners policies pay to repair damage from unpredictable incidents like lightning strikes, fires, or explosions.
Policies also usually cover human-related damage to include theft, civil unrest or riots, vandalism, or accidents involving a vehicle not owned and operated by any residents of your home. Yard and landscape damage from insects or disease is not covered.
Repair of broken, fallen, or dead plants and trees resulting from inclement weather like high winds, storms, hail, snow, and ice varies among insurance policies and providers. The type of solution also varies, with some plans helping with removal and not replacement.
Regular homeowners insurance coverage excludes damage caused by floods. You will need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy for flood protection. If you think this may be a concern for you, you may want to inquire about your area’s water table and flooding history, which may change with shifts in weather and topography.
Keep in mind that insurance companies handle landscape coverage differently than other types of personal property, limiting it to a percentage of your total homeowners coverage and allowing for fewer causes of repairs than for the home itself.
How Much is My Landscaping Covered For?
Homeowners insurance policies that cover yard and landscape damage will limit the dollar amount to a certain percentage of the total worth of the overall coverage for your property. And, as you likely know, your deductible will have to be met first before you can collect the benefits.
The percentage of the policy’s worth that many insurance companies are willing to offer is around 5%. Insurance will help pay the cost of damage to your landscape by the causes outlined in your plan, but the dollar value of the payout will cap off at 5% of the value of your total policy’s dwelling coverage limit.
In addition, many policies place limits on any individual items. This means that the company will not pay more than a specified dollar limit to fix or replace any one item. In most cases you’ll encounter limits of $500 per item, or as much as $1000 per item.
So if you have insured your property with a homeowners policy worth $350,000, you can receive up to $17,500 in repairs to your yard, garden, and landscaping. However, you won’t recoup more than $500 for any single tree, plant, shrub, or other landscape item unless you opted for a specific addendum to your policy.
The yard and garden portion of your insurance will certainly help you restore your yard after a tree falls (in most cases, depending on cause), which can often be devastating to your yard and especially your house. The limit to one item still applies in this case, though, with $500 or so per tree removal.
Do I Need Specialist Cover For My Lawn?
Maybe you’ve become a landscaping enthusiast and cultivated a stunning lawn around your home. If you’ve poured a lot of expense into building a beautiful garden, the per-plant-or-tree limit on your regular homeowners policy may not be much help to you.
Contact your insurance provider and ask about what options they can offer to protect your lawn investment, you can usually apply for additional coverage to gain more protection for your lawn in case of damage. An endorsement can help by adding specific language to your policy’s rules to fit your needs.
If the problem with your base policy is the $500 limit per plant or shrub, your insurer may be able to increase your coverage to double this cap. Plans vary, but you will likely be able to select from an increase for specific plants and areas or additional coverage for your lawn in general.
Some policies even provide coverage for damage to lawn maintenance machinery or high-end gardening tools, so check with your insurance company if these benefits could be of help to you in case of emergency.
Are Plants, Flowers & Shrubs Covered By My Household Insurance?
Smaller accents to your yard like flowers and dwarf plants may not be commodities you worry about when thinking about damage to your yard, but generally they are included in your homeowners policy’s landscape portion.
Check the wording on your policy for specific benefits, because as you’ll find in other sections, coverage varies when it comes to smaller plants. The specifications of which causes of damage are covered and which are not definitely apply here, and some plans will replace damaged plants while others only help with costs of removing dead ones.
A homeowners policy works for your lawn and garden if it’s only used for your personal enjoyment. You will need to purchase a different policy to insure any gardening that brings in profit. Your regular policy also cannot be applied to shared landscaping like community gardens. The insured area must be located on your personal residence.
Are Fallen Trees Covered By My Homeowners Policy?
If a tree falls on your property, your insurance will probably cover repairs to your home or other structures like fences. The cost of removing the tree may fall safely within policy limits as well, but few plans help you actually replace trees in your yard.
Again, you’ll see that cause of damage is important here as far as getting your benefits. In the case of fallen trees, rot and infestation could have been prevented and makes the tree exempt from coverage. If your neighbor’s tree falls onto your property and causes damage to a structure, your insurance can help you cover costs.
Even if wind-related damage to your yard isn’t covered under your policy, sometimes tree removal costs can be recouped for trees that fall in strong winds. Check your policy for details about your specific plan; you could get help clearing damaged trees if the cause is covered.
Are Greenhouses Covered By My Home Insurance?
In addition to your home and surrounding greenery, structures like sheds, gazebos, and patios on your property are covered by homeowners insurance – including greenhouses.
Your home insurance policy will help with costs of repairing damage to greenhouses and conservatories used for your own personal gardening, but you’ll need to take out a separate commercial policy if you want to insure your greenhouse used for business purposes.
Garden retaining walls and yard erosion usually aren’t covered in most policies.
I think it may be worth checking the small print of our homeowner’s insurance to find out if our mature trees are in fact covered by our policy.
I assume they are – but when it comes to yard insurance (as with most things), it’s important to remember that assumption is the mother of all…….
You know the rest! 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >