Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Landscaping Damage?
Homeowners insurance is designed to protect you financially if your home is damaged or destroyed. But does homeowners insurance cover landscaping? Will an insurance company pay to replace your lawn, garden, trees, shrubs, and other outdoor features of your yard? The answer is yes, as long as the damage is due to a covered peril. Here, we’ll break down what constitutes a covered peril, tell you how much insurance you can expect to pay out, and let you know about insurance options available if your landscaping is unusually ornate.
When does homeowners insurance cover landscaping and yard damage?
A standard homeowners insurance policy covers damage to landscaping when it’s caused by a covered peril. Covered perils include things like:
- Damage to the landscaping caused by someone else’s vehicle
Let’s say someone steals several bushes or drives their vehicle through your front yard and causes damage. Typically, homeowners insurance coverage will protect against those losses. In fact, many of the perils you’ve protected your house against — like fire, lightning, and vandalism — extend to your yard.
The big exception is weather-related damage. Landscaping losses caused by wind, hail, freezing, the weight of snow, ice, and flooding are typically not covered. The same is true for damage caused by pests, insects, or diseases. Of those exceptions, you can plan for flooding by purchasing a separate flood insurance policy.
How much landscaping damage is covered by homeowners insurance?
When damage to landscaping is due to a covered peril, the insurer bases the amount it will pay on the dwelling limit. Let’s say you have a home with a dwelling limit of $300,000. That’s how much the insurance company will cover if the home 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 home with a dwelling limit of $300,000, an insurer would pay up to $15,000 toward landscaping losses ($300,000 x 0.05 = $15,000).
Coverage limits for landscaping and yard damage
An insurance company won’t just write a check for 5% of the total dwelling limit, though. Most insurers have caps on what they’ll pay. For example, a company may cap the amount they’ll pay for a tree or shrub to be removed at $500 or $1,000. Each component of the landscaping has another cap, 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 coverage limits and caps vary by insurer, making it especially important for those with well-landscaped yards to check the details of their policy before peril strikes. 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 far more expensive than your current policy will cover or that insurance coverage is insufficient to replace the thousands of dollars you’ve spent on plants and flowers.
It’s also important to remember that you’ll have to pay your deductible before the insurer kicks in to pay the remainder of the bill and to weigh whether making a claim is worth it in the long run. Let’s say you have $10,000 worth of damage with a $500 deductible. In that case, making a claim is an easy decision. However, if the repairs are going to 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 a homeowner has on file, the lower their annual premiums.
Additional coverage options for yards and gardens
Homeowners who have poured thousands into creating stunning, intricate landscaping have the option of increasing the coverage level of their homeowners policy. It’s called a “yard and garden endorsement.” While a yard and garden endorsement does not change the total amount an insurer will pay to repair or replace damaged landscaping, it does raise the caps put in place by the insurer.
Let’s say a neighbor’s house catches on fire, and the fire spreads to your yard. By the time the fire is extinguished, 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.
An endorsement does more than increase coverage caps on plants. 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 take
If you’re concerned about what would happen if your landscaping is destroyed, the following steps can ensure that you have the level of protection you’re most comfortable with:
- Check your existing policy to make sure landscaping is covered. If it is covered, check for things your home insurance may not cover, like pre-existing issues.
- Determine how much coverage you have and decide whether it’s enough to replace your landscaping.
- Call your insurer to learn 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 sufficient to repair or replace the landscaping, shop around for an insurance company that provides more.
- If you are able to purchase an endorsement, expect to pay an extra $50 to $100 a year for the additional coverage.
Given that the average homeowner spends between $100 and $200 a month on landscaping, it makes sense to insure that investment just as they insure their homes.