Landscaping adds a lot to the enjoyment of your home while you live in it and the value of your home when you sell it. Good landscaping doesn’t come cheap. As spring finally approaches, if your green thumb is itching to welcome warmer weather with new plantings around the family manse, make sure your ground cover (and other landscaping) is covered by your homeowners insurance.
Are your plants covered and for how much?
Insurance for landscaping falls under Coverage C, the personal property or contents clause of your homeowner’s insurance policy. It usually amounts to 50% to 70% of your Coverage A, the part that insures your actual structure. For example, if your Coverage A is written for $300,000, your personal property including your landscaping is covered for between $150,000 and $210,000.
That doesn’t mean you’ll get 100% of the Coverage C if a windstorm uproots your specimen palm tree. Certain items including landscaping plants under Coverage C have special limits. For instance trees, plants and shrubs are usually only covered for 5% of your homeowner policy’s value, and there are also dollar limits for each individual tree, shrub and plant that typically cap at $500 apiece. And, depending on the policy you have, you may get nothing other than the removal of the dead tree and repair to any covered structure it damaged on its way down.
Homeowner’s insurance policies also spell out under what circumstances damage is covered. The standard HO-2 policy, which is what most homeowners in the U.S. have, usually covers losses and damages sustained under these situations:
- Windstorm (unless you live in a hurricane-prone area, which requires a separate policy)
- Hail (not always covered everywhere)
- Riots and civil commotion
- Aircraft and things that fall from aircraft
- Vehicles and things thrown from them
- Malicious mischief
- Volcanic eruption
- Falling objects
- Ice, snow or sleet weight
- Flooding caused by appliances, plumbing, HVA or fire sprinkler systems
- Glass breakage
- Abrupt collapse (unless it can be shown it was caused by neglect on your part)
So unless you have a policy or endorsements that cover damage from floods, earthquakes, wars, nuclear accidents, landslides, mudslides, sinkholes, sewer backup, sump pump failure, ground movement and holes caused by mining, or pollution neither your home nor your landscaping will be covered in those events.
What to do
As always, read your homeowner’s insurance policy’s declaration page very carefully. If you’ve invested a lot of time and money in landscaping your home you may want to compare quotes from an insurer that covers landscaping, or add additional coverage in the form of endorsements and riders to your existing policy. Endorsements to a standard policy can increase the per item limit for each damaged plant while riders can protect against wind, storm and hail damage.