If you’ve got a shiny new lawn mower in the garage you want to make sure it’s insured properly – after all these machines aren’t cheap. But are they covered on your standard homeowners policy?
Most push mowers and riding lawn mowers are covered under your homeowners insurance policy, especially for fire, flood and theft. However, your insurer may want you to have extra cover for larger machines, and for accident and injury, as 20,000 people a year in the US are injured by lawn mowers.
There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s consider what your homeowner’s policy does include and does not, and look at why it’s so important to insure your lawn mower properly.
Push Mowers & Riding Lawn Mowers Are Covered Under Your Homeowners Insurance
Let’s go straight to the good news: most push mowers and riding lawnmowers are covered under your homeowners insurance policy. That’s really reassuring, as a good mower isn’t cheap to replace.
Before we look at lawn mower insurance in any more detail, we’d just better pause to say that we at Take A Yard aren’t financial advisors. Sure, we know about homeowners insurance from experience and research, but we’re simply here to give you some pointers, not advice. Always check your specific policy, and if in doubt, talk to your insurer or broker.
OK, back to lawn mowers… Most are covered by your home contents or garage contents insurance as personal property. Should your outbuilding suffer a flood or fire, or if someone breaks in and takes your mower, your policy should pick this up (just remember you’ll have to pay the deductible).
So, that’s good news for fire, flood and theft. However, some insurers can be a bit more concerned about accident and injury cover when it comes to riding mowers, even smaller models that most emphatically aren’t tractors. We’ll come onto this specific issue in a minute.
Are Lawn Tractors & Garden Tractors Also Covered?
Yes, they usually are. However, because they are more expensive than a smaller domestic mower (and a new garden tractor can cost upwards of $8,000), you should definitely treat them as an extra, separate item.
There are other things to take into consideration if you own a lawn or garden tractor. Many of us buy our expensive items on credit, and the lender may insist that you have cover.
Another factor to take into account is repair bills. Your lawn or garden tractor works hard, and at some point during its working life, there’s a good chance that it will need fixing. As with your motor insurance, specific lawn or garden tractor insurance will help you pick up the bill if you need to pay for a costly repair.
Lastly, do you ever plan to use it elsewhere? If so, speak with your insurance company for advice (and we’ll look at lawn mower insurance gaps in just a moment). Don’t simply volunteer your services as neighborhood lawnmower man without checking what cover is need
Are There Any Potential Coverage Gaps For Mowers?
One scary fact is that if you lend your neighbor your mower, it’s no longer used for “solely servicing your own premises”. In other words, the terms of the insurance have been broken. This doesn’t apply to every policy, but it’s definitely worth checking the wording of yours, and maybe running a scenario or two past your insurer.
Some policies state “service a residence”, which means you can help out your neighbor, but should you volunteer to mow the local scout group’s yard with your own equipment, you’ll invalidate your insurance.
Lending a mower is a neighborly act that we do without thinking, but please double-check what would happen if there’s an accident or if the mower is damaged.
Is The Shed Where I Keep The Lawn Mower Insured on My Homeowner’s Policy?
Generally speaking, your outbuildings are insured, along with the gardening equipment you keep in them. Again, we’re talking about most policies, so check yours to make sure.
This part of your homeowners policy is called “other structures protection” and will cover your detached garage, shed or workshop. As a rule, outbuildings are insured for 10% of the cover. So, if your home is insured for $250,000, your shed etc are insured for $25,000.
For many small-time gardeners, this is fine. However, if you own a flashy new lawn tractor or garden tractor, you may want to speak with your insurer or broker, as ten per cent won’t go very far if your garage goes up in flames.
As with your home contents insurance, you have the option of insuring high-value items separately. So one option could be to go with the standard ten per cent cover, then insure your mower as a separate, high-value item.
If you own a garden tractor because you run a small ranch, ideally you should be looking at a special farm package insurance policy. There are dedicated policies for smallholders, horse owners and hobby farmers, and these should offer the right cover for your barns, stables and outhouses and their contents.
Do You Actually Need Insurance For a Riding Mower?
No, you don’t need insurance for a riding mower – but it’s a good idea to get it. Unlike a full-size agricultural vehicle, your riding mower, lawn tractor or garden tractor won’t be going along the public highway, so you don’t need any form of motor insurance.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, most contents policies, domestic and agricultural, will cover outbuildings and contents, so your mower should be covered for fire, flood and theft. So, you don’t really need separate mower insurance to cover these nasty little surprises. If it’s a valuable mower, you can choose to add it to the policy as a separate high-value item, but this isn’t mandatory.
However, there are more potential costs to owning a mower than replacing it after a flood. Yes, we’re talking accident and injury claims; and hang on, because like a garden tractor on a muddy field, this is going to be a bumpy ride…
We don’t like to sound like the prophets of doom, but these can be dangerous pieces of kit. In the US, around 20,000 people are injured by mowers each year, and 800 of these are kids. An average of 75 people a year are killed in mower accidents. Apart from maybe your car, your mower is potentially one of the most deadly things that you own.
OK, there’s plenty we can do to mitigate these risks. Don’t drive your mower like an idiot, keep your kids and pets well away from the yard or field where you’re mowing, and learn how to use the thing properly in the first place. If anyone else has access to your yard or smallholding, think about putting up a sign when you’re on the mower.
According to the OSHA, professional gardeners and landscapers need to be trained in the use of riding mowers. However, it seems that any of us can simply buy one, read the instructions, and drive out into the sunset. Happily, you can get training as a domestic gardener: search for “riding mower training domestic user” in your local area.
So we’re mitigating the risks with safe mowing practices – but what if there’s an accident or someone gets injured? The legal and medical bills could be astronomical. If there’s any, any risk that your mower could cause an accident, get liability insurance. You can choose from open peril and named peril cover (the first covers any eventuality and is more expensive), and your insurer or broker can advise you.
While most push lawn mowers and riding models are covered under your existing homeowners insurance policy, larger machines such as lawn tractors and garden tractors may require additional cover.
On top of standard theft, fire and flood cover (which may be included in your existing policy), your insurer may also require you to have additional accident and injury cover as there are so many accidents across the country with these machines annually.
As stated above – we’re not financial advisors though – so please check the fine print of your specific homeowners policy and speak to your insurance broker if you’re in any doubt.