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home at nightWhen homeowners shop for insurance, they often forget to ask about whether their landscaping is covered, even though it may be one of the most cherished and expensive parts of their property.  

The Insurance Information Institute states that a standard St George home insurance policy will cover landscaping that is damaged by fire, lightning, explosion, civil disturbance, vandalism, criminal mischief and theft. However, the loss must be incident to damage to the home. For example, wind damage is not covered unless the home is damaged as well. 

Homeowners need to be wary and informed. Even though a standard policy may include coverage language, the amount of coverage may be severely limited. For example, Vice President Loretta L. Worters of the Insurance Information Institute explains that some insurers cap landscape damage at five-percent of the home's insured value. Many policies also have strict per item and per-incident limits. A homeowner who loses five mature and valuable ornamental trees, may find their pay out barely covers the cost of replacing one. The Institute also says that some insurers refuse to cover trees because they cannot be easily valued.

Something else a homeowner needs to consider when buying insurance are the landscape installations. Fish ponds, benches, lighting, and external ornamental structures may not be covered or may fall under the very low per-item cap. Landscaping can add significant value to a home and owners need to protect their investment.

Like any other fine items in the home, the owner needs to keep meticulous records of their landscaping. If a professional service was used, the owner should get a detailed inventory of the plants, structures, and support systems such as planting beds, ponds, and irrigation systems. Do-it-yourself landscapers should keep plant lists and receipts.

The owner should also take photographs of their landscaping, both panoramic shots of the plantings, and close-ups of any rare or particularly valuable plants. The day after a wind and hail storm is not the time to describe the the value of the award-winning heirloom roses that were stripped and pulped to their roots. 

The owner should have an idea of the replacement value of their landscaping. Old-growth trees, heirloom or hybrid roses, and rare ornamentals may need documentation from experts on their value. While the century-old oak that crashed through the roof can't be replaced one-for-one, the owner needs to know the cost of a mature tree substitute.  The Institute stresses that without riders, loss of trees is limited to the structural damage and debris removal, not replacement. 

Finally, the owner needs to ask informed questions. A professional insurance agent can help an owner craft a policy with appropriate endorsements or riders to give maximum protection to their cherished landscaping. Call Key City Insurance at 435-656-8100 today for an appointment.

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