Garden insurance: why your home policy may not cover you

When it comes to the contents of their garden, many people are underinsured – or may not be covered at all. To find out if you are one of them, check the paperwork for your home contents insurance and buildings insurance.

Home contents insurance covers the things that can be carried away from your property. The policies many people have will typically include some cover for loss or damage to items in the garden such as plants and furniture, although in some cases it may be only a few hundred pounds, and some cheaper policies may provide no cover at all. Also, if you have pricey gear, be aware that contents policies usually include a single-item limit, which will often be between £1,500 and £2,500.

“Many homeowners and renters do not know that home contents insurance doesn’t always cover the cost of replacing your garden furniture and outside items as standard,” says Praksha Patel-Shah, a home insurance expert at the comparison site Moneysupermarket. “Most home insurance policies will provide some level of garden cover but it’s best to inquire with your provider when taking out your policy to ensure you are covered.”

Many buildings insurance policies extend cover to outbuildings – such as sheds and greenhouses – as standard but you may have to let them know they exist when you buy the policy. With some firms and some structures, you will incur an additional cost to add them.

Buildings insurance may also include items that are permanently fixed into the ground such as hot tubs, pergolas and some statues.

Items in a shed or garden office will typically be covered for theft under your contents insurance. “However, how much you can claim is generally limited,” Patel-Shah says. In some cases you will be covered only if the outbuilding was locked and there is evidence of forced entry.

Exclusions in the cover provided by your home insurance can sometimes include severe weather damage – for example, it might exclude damage caused by falling trees or branches – or plants that are in the ground rather than in pots.

If you have very valuable garden equipment, you may be able to pay an additional sum to protect this through your home insurance policy. Some insurers sell different levels of cover, from basic to luxury, while others will let you buy garden cover as an optional add-on.

Nationwide is an example of the latter: its contents insurance offers, as standard, up to £750 to cover loss or damage to “contents in the open” but you can choose to add £5,000 of cover for loss or damage to trees, plants, tools, garden furniture and so on. When it comes to theft of items from outbuildings, the maximum cover is either £2,500 or £5,000, depending on how much you have opted to insure in total.

Direct Line’s standard contents insurance offers up to £1,000 of cover for contents in the garden, while its “Plus” policy goes up to £2,500. The figures for theft of items from outbuildings are £2,500 and £5,000 of cover respectively.

Meanwhile, Admiral offers three levels of contents cover. The most basic one does not include anything for garden contents, although does include £500 for garden plants. That policy also does not include theft from outbuildings. However, Admiral’s Gold and Platinum packages include £1,000 and £2,500 respectively for garden items and plants, and £1,500 and £5,000 for theft from outbuildings.