In advance of the summer holidays, Gocompare.com is warning homeowners to secure their gardens against green-fingered thieves.
The warning comes as new research by the comparison website found that one in five homeowners have been a victim of garden thefts or vandalism.
The research revealed that the top five items stolen or damaged from gardens were:
1. Bicycles (20%)
2. Garden sculpture or ornament (16%)
3. Trees/shrubs (15%)
4. Garden furniture (12%)
5. Lawn mower (8%)
The average value of property either stolen or damage was estimated to be worth £311, while 16% of homeowners affected suffered losses of £500 or more.
Mark Greening, Gocompare.com's home insurance spokesperson, commented, "For many homeowners their gardens are an extension of their living space, filled with stylish furniture, planting and ornaments. But, if householders added up the cost of replacing these items they might be surprised to find that their garden contents are worth several thousands of pounds.
"However, people don't always think about the value and security of their garden possessions in the same way as they do their house - leaving rich pickings for thieves particularly over the summer holidays when homeowners are either away or leave garden tools or play equipment out over-night.
"The majority of home contents insurance policies provide limited cover for garden contents such as furniture, BBQs, paddling pools and lawnmowers under ‘contents in the open', typically in the region of £500 to £1,000*. Plants in the garden are covered as standard by only 44% of policies and, not every insurer offers it as an optional extra. Some policies only provide £200 worth of cover for plants - which won't stretch very far if you have to replace mature or rare specimens."
Mark concluded, "Home insurance policies vary hugely in the cover they provide for gardens and their contents so, homeowners need to carefully assess the value of their outdoor possessions and compare policy features and limits as well as prices. If the contents of your garden are particularly valuable, you may need to consider a specialist garden insurance policy."
Top tips from Gocompare.com to help secure your garden and its contents from unwanted visitors this summer:
- Keep boundary hedges and fences in good order to keep them secure - this will help deter opportunistic thieves. Consider defensive planting of prickly shrubs or hedges
- Where practical keep outdoor possessions in a locked shed or garage
- Install security lighting
- Secure expensive plants with wire pegs dug into the ground around the root ball ¦Use a security pen to mark valuable items that are left in the open (garden furniture, ornaments and trampolines for example) with your postcode.
For more information visit www.gocompare.com/home-insurance/garden-insurance-guide.
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Notes to editors:
On 7th - 12th June 2013, Vision Critical conducted an online survey among 2,004 randomly selected home owning British adults who are Springboard UK panellists. The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.
*Source: Defaqto Matrix of 310 home insurance policies (14 June 2013)