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Is landscaping damage coverage worth it?

Don’t count on your homeowners policy to cover all damages and replacements in your outdoor spaces.

Landscaping your home costs a lot of time, effort and money — and it's the one part of your property that's most exposed to damage. But while some people assume their homeowners insurance fully protects against landscaping damage, the truth is a standard policy covers very little.

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What is landscaping damage coverage?

In a standard homeowners insurance policy, only very basic landscaping damages are covered. This is mostly because it can be hard to determine a value on plants and trees, especially as their growth matures. The risk increases when landscaping is exposed to every kind of damage, which can make coverage costs too high to be practical.

If you’ve spent a lot of money on a particular tree or bush, or if you know your area is prone to weather damages not covered by your standard policy, you may consider extra coverage.

What does landscaping coverage include?

Every homeowners policy is different, but when you make a claim that includes landscaping damages, this is usually what’s included:

  • Gardening equipment coverage. Any equipment is covered under the personal property coverage of your homeowners policy.
  • Overall garden coverage. In addition to per-tree protection, most standard policies will pay to remove the damage and debris caused by covered incidents, but won’t pay to replace what was damaged.
  • Structure coverage. Damages to sheds, fences, greenhouses and other standalone structures are covered under the dwelling part of your homeowners policy.
  • Sprinkler system coverage. Your irrigation system may also be covered since it’s considered part of the building. It’s similar to the way that plumbing or electrical are covered.
  • Tree and brush coverage. Usually the landscaping clause of your homeowners policy will call out how much coverage you have per tree or brush. On average you’ll get $500 per tree or brush up to 5% of the home’s value, after you pay the deductible. But that’s probably much less than the cost to replace a fully mature tree from a garden center.

Is landscaping damage coverage worth it?

The standard coverage offered in your homeowners policy may be enough for anyone with basic yard features, but if you’ve shelled out big money to turn your front and backyards into showpieces, you should consider one or more of the following supplemental coverage options:

  • Scheduled high-value coverage. Some insurers offer an add-on to your homeowners policy to cover specific, high-value pieces of landscaping or garden items. It’s similar to scheduling individual items like jewelry on your policy. This might be a good option to cover a high-end greenhouse or a few rare or valuable plants in your garden collection.
  • Tree and brush coverage. In some cases, you can add to your tree and brush coverage to bring the replacement value up to $1000 each or more, depending on your insurer. This is a good option if you have many old or valuable trees on your property.
  • Weather-related incident coverage. You can also add coverage for other weather-related damage that might destroy plants, such as wind, hail or flooding.

Landscaping damage coverage in action

If a lightning storm in your area causes a tree in your backyard to fall over and crush your shed, your homeowners policy pays for the removal of the tree and the rebuild of your shed. But it won’t typically cover the replacement of the tree itself. You get $500 reimbursement for the tree, which will only buy a mature tree that’s half as big.

What’s not covered by landscaping damage coverage?

The landscaping damages not covered depend on a variety of factors, but often insurance may cover damages to structures and cleanup costs, but not the replacement of the landscaping.

  • It depends on what caused the damage. Check your insurance policy carefully for what’s covered, and you’ll notice that the incidents covered typically include things like lightning, fire or theft. That means if your yard is destroyed in a storm and you don’t have coverage for hail, hurricane or flooding, your insurance might not even pay out for debris removal.
  • Your per tree coverage won’t always cover it. Seeing that your insurance covers up to $500 per brush or tree may seem like plenty, but replacing with even younger trees can add up quickly. If you have a lot of old-growth trees on your property, standard coverage won’t even begin to cover your losses.
  • Maintenance matters. Keep in mind that if a rotting tree falls and causes damage, not only will your insurance not cover replacing the tree, but they may not cover any structural damage.

Bottom line

It’s important to know what’s covered by your homeowners policy, even if you’re a garden minimalist. And if your insurance company doesn’t offer the coverage you need, shop around for home insurance to find a policy that better protects what’s important to you.

Common questions about coverage for landscaping damage

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