We all know that homeowners insurance protects your home and its contents, but what about outside your home? Are trees, landscaping, and outdoor furniture all covered under the same umbrella as the house itself? After all, a fallen tree or a smashed fence after a bad storm can be just as expensive to remedy as a broken window or damaged roof. How do you know what’s covered? Let’s take a look at some typical home insurance policies and see what they cover outside of the home.
Fallen trees cause millions of dollars in damage to homes every year. If a tree falls and damages your home, you’ll almost certainly be covered. Even if it’s your neighbor’s tree, just about any homeowners policy will pay for repair to your house caused by fallen trees or limbs. Most other structures such as detached garages or fences usually will be covered as well.
Note that not everything in your yard will be covered, however. If a tree falls and destroys a children’s play set or an above-ground pool, a standard home insurance policy might not pay for replacement or repair unless these items were specifically added to the policy in a rider.
But what about getting the fallen tree out the yard? If tree does damage a covered structure, your insurance will probably pay a limited amount towards tree removal. If a tree falls and damages nothing but the ground below it, you’re probably on the hook for the total cost of removing the tree or limb. The cost of tree removal is usually capped at around several hundred dollars, too. So if ten trees fall and one of them damages a covered structure, you might end up paying quite a bit out of your own pocket to have them hauled away.
Many homeowners policies also have liability coverage, so that if guests are injured in your yard you’ll be protected from lawsuits to a certain extent. Some policies specifically cover liability from dog bites. So if Fido bites a kid crossing through your yard, you won’t have to worry about being on the hook for excessive medical bills or other lawsuits. Be sure to read the fine print, however. Certain dog breeds that insurers consider overly aggressive, such as pit bulls and Rottweiler’s, will not be included in the dog bite liability clause.
Another thing that insurance companies won’t cover is liability for injuries from trampolines. Many companies will flat out refuse to insure homes that have a trampoline on the property. The reason is that they are so incredibly dangerous. In just 2009 alone, trampolines caused nearly 93,000 accidents which required a visit to the emergency room!
Read up on your homeowners policy to see exactly what kind of outdoor damage is covered. If you live in an especially forested area, make sure you have the right kind of coverage to protect your home. Given enough storms and bad weather, it’s only a matter of time before a tree falls.