A homeowners insurance policy provides coverage, albeit narrow coverage, for any damage incurred by your landscaping. Your plants, shrubs and trees are limited to a percentage of your total policy, and only protected from certain causes of damage.
When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Landscaping Damage?
Your lawn and landscaping will have needed to be damaged by one of the following to be eligible for coverage from your homeowners policy:
|Explosion, riot or civil commotion||Flood|
|Aircraft||Pests and vermin|
|Vehicles (not owned by you)|
Problems that are excluded from that list include pests and vermin, hail, wind and flood. While rodents and gophers can destroy anything from tree barks to flower bulbs, their damage isn't claimable - they are typically considered common nuisances or preventable with traps and bait stations. Insurers also won't pay claims from floods under your homeowners policy because you need separate flood insurance protection to cover that.
We would recommend you take a look at your own policy, as insurers treat exceptions differently. Some policies that we have reviewed include reimbursement for the damaged landscaping, while others may only cover the removal of dead plants, shrubs and trees. Also note that the landscaping needs to be located on the grounds of your residence to be insurable. You cannot maintain a garden in some other location, like a shared community or neighborhood green space, and have it protected by your policy. Additionally, if you use your garden or landscaping for any sort of monetary or business purpose, your company will deny payment--even if the cause of the damage is technically covered.
How Much is Your Landscaping Covered For?
In most homeowners policies, "trees, plants and shrubs" are usually not covered for more than 5% of the total dwelling coverage. For example, if the structure of your home (not your personal belongings) is insured for $500,000, you wouldn't be able to file a claim for more than $25,000 to repair your landscaping.
Some policies also claim that they will not cover any single tree, shrub or plant (including its removal) for more than $500. For example, a 4' boxwood shrub is valued at over $700. If it were to be destroyed in a fire, your insurer would only pay you at most $500 to replace it (if your policy covers replacement). If you had multiple boxwood shrubs, each would get $500 worth of protection up to 5% of the value of your policy.
Getting Additional Coverage for Your Lawn and Garden
If you have extensive and expensive landscaping you can actually purchase an endorsement, or add-on, that will grant more protection to your plants, shrubs and trees. Typically each plant would get up to $1,000 in coverage rather than $500. You can likely increase that amount as well in certain extenuating cases.
The endorsement would even extend coverage to any expensive gardening and landscaping tools and machinery you own. Endorsements usually cost around $50 to $100 extra per year, but it will depend on how much coverage you ask for. To get more information about the endorsement you should contact your homeowners insurance agent to hear more about your company's policy.