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‘Contents in the open' insurance warning as Brits lavish £6.7bn on garden projects

08 August 2013

As new research reveals that Brits plan to spend £6.7bn* on garden projects in the next 12 months, Gocompare.com 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 Gocompare.com, 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 Gocompare.com'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%


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 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: Based on the 2011 Census Analysis there are 15 million owner occupied homes in the UK.  According to the Gocompare.com survey; owner occupiers in the UK plan to spend an average of £444 on garden projects in the next 12 months.  £444 x 15m homeowners = £6.7bn.

**Source: Source: Defaqto Matrix of 310 home insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial research company Defaqto (14 June 2013)