Winter gales and March storms force many shed and summerhouse owners to think about insurance. From wind ripping off roof felt to sheds and timber garden rooms being flattened by fallen trees, there’s plenty that can happen to a garden building, however robust. So the question is, does home insurance cover garden buildings such as sheds, garages, summerhouses and even log cabins?
Insuring garden buildings
The good news is that most building insurance policies cover outbuildings too – not just damage caused by falling trees either, but problems like fire or subsidence. However, storm damage to lightweight garden sheds is a grey area. Some insurers lump garden sheds in with garden fences, as being too flimsy to cover for storm damage. If you’re not sure if you’re shed our out building is cover it is always best to check before any damage occurs; a quick call to your insurer should resolve any worries.
Insuring the contents
If you have a garden building you also need to think about insurance for the contents of that shed, cabin or garden room – not just against winter weather disasters, but fire and theft. According to an article by Direct Line, the average household has over £1200 worth of garden and garage equipment, so check that your home insurance policy covers the content, and not just damage to the structure.
If you have a summerhouse with rugs, paintings and garden furniture, a garden room with a bar, pool table and games, or if have a garden gym with workout equipment, the contents may well be worth a lot more than £1200. If so, it’s even more important to check your contents insurance policy:
- Some policies cover a maximum of just £1500 worth of kit in outbuildings; others stretch to £2,000 or even £5,000.
- Some place limits on the value you can claim for a single item, so beware if you have expensive telescopes or home cinema systems in a garden building. There may also be specific cover or conditions for bikes.
We all know how boring it is to check the small print of an insurance policy, but it’s better to do so before a tree falls down or your bike disappears in the night.
Working from home
The situation with both building and contents insurance gets more complicated if you use a garden cabin to work from home. Whilst some domestic policies may include insurance on office furniture and hardware, they certainly won’t cover you if you’re running a business from home (you’re require separate business insurance for this). But as home-working and home businesses become more common, it’s getting easier to get affordable insurance cover on a garden business. Insurers such as Henshalls, John Lewis, Swinton, Business Home Insurance and others should be able to help.
Improve your garden security
Whether you’re covered for £1500 or £5000, or if you just enjoy lounging in your summerhouse or run a business from a garden office, insurers require outbuildings to be in good condition, and to be secure. They also expect a decent level of maintenance in terms of roof felt and electrical wiring. You may benefit from lower premiums and/or easier claims if you make your garden and outbuildings more secure:
- Buy a garden building with sturdy locks built in (all GardenLife buildings come with strong cylinder locks as standard) or use stout padlocks.
- Remember to use building locks – you may not be able to claim on insurance if something is stolen as a result of the door being left open.
- Don’t leave valuable items such as bicycles, tools or computers easily visible through shed windows – curtains, blinds and lockable cabinets can all help keep valuables out of view.
- Install automatic security lights in your garden; you can now get solar powered security lights which can be fitted to garden buildings without mains electricity.
- Noisy, loose gravel on paths can deter intruders because the noise of footsteps alerts homeowners.
- Rotten door and window frames make it easier for thieves to get into a shed, even if it’s locked. So, buy a garden building with laminated door and window frames (which won’t rot), and consider double glazing rather than cheaper plexi glass (which saves money initially but isn’t as secure).
- Invest in a shed alarm, available from good DIY stores.
If you’d like more information about any of the security features on GardenLife cabins please don’t hesitate to call or email.