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‘Contents in the open' insurance warning

8th August 2013 Print

As new research reveals that Brits plan to spend £6.7bn on garden projects in the next 12 months, warns homeowners not to underestimate the value of their gardens' contents and not to assume they are covered by their home insurance.

In the next year, one in ten (11%) homeowners undertaking a garden project estimate that they will spend over £1,000, with the average expected spend being £444.  The planting of new trees, shrubs and flowers (42%) tops the nation's garden to-do list, followed by general maintenance jobs only (39%), attending to fencing and gates (21%), and 13% expect to lay a new patio or decking area.
Mark Greening, head of home insurance at, commented: "Over a quarter (26%) of those in our survey said that they spend a lot of time and money improving their garden space and, perhaps inspired by magazine and TV garden makeovers, 11% say they take design as seriously in their garden as in their house.  
"While standard buildings and contents insurance policies include a degree of cover for garden items, the amount and level of cover varies considerably.  So if you've bought expensive furniture, BBQs, or exotic plants for your garden, you may find that you need to pay an additional premium to add these to your home insurance policy or take out additional garden cover."
Mark Greening explained: "Sheds, patios, fences, walls and gates are classed as part of your home's fixtures and fittings, so will usually be covered under your buildings insurance.  However, items which are moveable, such a garden dining set, BBQ or lawnmower, are considered as household contents under ‘contents in the open'.
"Generally, insurers limit the amount you can claim for items damaged or stolen from your garden or outbuildings.  An analysis of over 300 home insurance policies revealed that 72% provide cover of £1,000 or less for ‘contents in the open', of which 20% have a £500 limit and 5% of policies offer no cover at all.
"Thefts from outbuildings, such as garden sheds, usually have a separate limit ranging from nothing to unlimited cover, but most policies provide between £1,000 and £2,500 worth of cover.  However, insurers will only cover items stolen from a securely locked shed or outbuilding where there are signs of forced entry.
"So, before you fork out a lot of cash on your garden this summer, it's worth digging out your home insurance to check for limits and exclusions to make sure that you have sufficient cover in place."
The top ten list of planned garden jobs in the next 12 months revealed by's garden survey are:
1. General planting of trees, shrubs and flowers 42%
2. General maintenance only 39%
3. Replace or fit some fencing/gates 21%
4. Lay a new patio or decking area 13%
5. Completely redesign garden/outdoor space 8%
6. Buy or build a new BBQ 8%
7. Construct a shed 7%
8. Install security lighting 7%
9. Construct a water feature 6%
10. Install children's play equipment (playhouse, swings, trampoline, etc.) 3%
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