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Protect your garden treasures this summer

2nd April 2012 Print

With long weekends and Bank Holidays galore over the next few months, garden enthusiasts will be looking forward to spending more time outdoors getting ready for the summer. advises all those thinking of dusting off the barbeque set and sprucing up their gardens to ensure their outdoor items are adequately protected.

Analysis from the comparison site reveals most home contents policies make provisions for garden items, but the levels of cover vary considerably. For example; the maximum protection for items kept outdoors is £250 with Churchill Insurance while M&S Money offers unlimited cover. When considering levels of cover it's important to factor in big ticket items such as patio heaters, top of the range barbecues and lawnmowers stored in sheds and outbuildings. These need to be kept as secure as they would be in the home. Again, providers offer differing levels of cover for outbuildings; Budget Insurance covers up to £2,000 but unlimited protection is offered by Halifax and M&S Money.

Peter Harrison, insurance expert at MoneySupermarket, said: "Spring has sprung and many of us will be spending more time outside gardening or enjoying the milder weather. When you think about the items you may have in your garden it can be quite surprising how much they add up to. Many people have tables and chairs as well as gas barbeques and patio heaters, all items that carry a hefty price tag. Homeowners should beware that garden items can be easily targeted by thieves so it's essential to have the right amount of cover on your home insurance policy to make sure you're not underinsured.

"Considering the cost of some of the more expensive garden items it's also advisable to look at the policy details to see if there is a single item limit within the terms and conditions. If it does not state a limit, it may be worth contacting your insurer to notify them of any more costly items to ensure you are covered should you need to make a claim.

"Additionally, for those who keep items such as bikes or gym equipment in their sheds, out-houses or other storage areas, these will also require cover so it's important to keep these as secure as possible to ensure your insurance remains valid."

MoneySupermarket's top ten tips to keep your garden and valuables safe:

1. Insurers are specific about what is and isn't covered as part of contents and outbuildings. Read the small print and ensure your open space is fully insured.

2. Don't let thieves have easy access to your garden; ensure all gates and fences are in a good state of repair, and kept locked and bolted.

3. Make sure your shed has a good lock.

4. Do not leave expensive tools or valuable items, such as bicycles, lying in your garden. Keep them locked away at night because if they are not properly secured, they might not be covered.

5. Make sure damage to walls, gates and fences are covered under your buildings insurance policy. Not all insurers provide this as standard.

6. Install a security light as a deterrent to any would-be thief.

7. Keep receipts for items purchased for the garden in case of future claims. It may also be worth declaring any single expensive items, such as a lawnmower, that may come above the single item limit on your cover if there is one.

8. If you have lots of expensive items in your garden then a normal policy may not cover you. Instead, you might be better opting for a high net-worth policy.

9. If you have a hot tub, jacuzzi or swimming pool make sure you tell your insurer as this is unlikely to be covered automatically.

10. Make sure you know what is excluded in your cover. Most will not cover you for loss or damage if your home is unoccupied.