Trees, Lawns, Shrubs and Plants - Are They Covered?

Posted on Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Trees, Lawns, Shrubs and Plants - Are They Covered?

When was the last time you thought about insurance coverage for that tree in your yard? Our guess: likely never.

We see a lot of damaged greenery this time of year. We find that homeowners are unaware of the Home Insurance policy’s impact on trees, lawns, shrubs and plants. This tends to create confusion about what the policy covers in the event of a loss. So, let’s clear things up!

In this article, we will break down the Home Insurance policy wordings into plain language to help you understand the coverage for trees, lawns, shrubs and plants. Then, we will give you some common real life examples to show how a Claims Adjuster would handle a loss.


HOME INSURANCE WORDINGS MADE SIMPLE:

Your Ayr Farmers Mutual Home Insurance policy wordings contain special rules and restrictions for lawns, outdoor trees, shrubs and plants. These rules are often misunderstood when a claiming for damage to greenery. We will break down the insurance wordings in plain language, and illustrate a few examples of what is and is not covered by an Ayr Farmers Home Insurance policy.

The following passage is from the Home Insurance Plus policy wordings – these are what a Claims Adjuster follows when adjusting a claim for a tree, shrub, lawn or plant:

Lawns, Outdoor Trees, Shrubs and Plants: You may apply up to 5% of the amount of insurance on your dwelling to lawns, trees, shrubs and plants owned by you on your premises. We will not pay more than $1,000 for any one tree, shrub or plant, including debris removal expenses. We insure these items against loss caused by fire, lightning, explosion, impact by aircraft or land vehicle, riot, vandalism and malicious acts, as described under Insured Perils. We do not insure items grown for commercial purposes.

Allow us to break this wording down into 3 parts, using everyday language…

Part 1 – Coverage Limit:

You have coverage for your lawn, outdoor trees, shrubs and plants under the “Building” limit on your policy. You may apply 5% of your “Building” limit towards damage to your lawn, outdoor trees, shrubs and plants in the event of a claim.

For example: If your “Building” limit is $500,000 – you can apply $25,000 of the $500,000 for damage to your lawn, outdoor trees, shrubs and plants (the 5% is not an extra amount of insurance, you are simply able to use 5% of the available “Building” limit). It is important to note that your standard “Building” deductible applies to the loss.

Part 2 – Cap on Each Lawn, Tree, Plant or Shrub:

The Home Insurance Plus policy wordings place a cap on the amount that you can apply to one item. Our Plus policies have a cap of $1,000 for any one lawn, tree, shrub or plant, which also includes the cost to remove and dispose debris. If there is a claim for a very large tree, the cost to dispose of the tree may be close to the $1,000 cap.

Part 3 – Perils:

Coverage ONLY applies to lawns, outdoor trees, shrubs and plants when damaged or destroyed by an insured peril (a peril is something that causes a loss). The insured perils in this case are fire, lightning, explosion, impact by aircraft or land vehicle, riot, vandalism and malicious acts.

NOTE - the peril of WINDSTORM IS NOT COVERED in this list, which is a common loss scenario. Also, coverage does not apply if you are growing lawns, outdoor trees, shrubs and plants for business purposes (a typical Home Insurance policy excludes business operations).


CLAIMS SCENARIOS EXPLAINED:

Now you better understand what the Home Insurance wordings cover. Let’s apply the wordings to real life scenarios.


SCENARIO 1: A windstorm damages a tree and it falls on your lawn.


Coverage for the tree: The tree and lawn were damaged by the peril of “windstorm,” which is NOT a covered peril in the wordings. There is no insurance coverage for this scenario - the tree would be your responsibility to remove.


SCENARIO 2: Lightning strikes a tree. The tree falls and damages a garden shed on your property.

Coverage for the tree and shed: The tree and garden shed were damaged by the peril of “lightning,” which is a listed peril in the wordings.

The policy covers the tree to a maximum of $1,000 including the cost for debris removal.

The resulting damages sustained to the garden shed from the tree falling are covered as well. The limitations regarding the payout for the shed can be found on your Policy Declaration page under “Detached Private Structures” limit.


SCENARIO 3:  An automobile strikes a tree on your property. The tree falls and damages a garden on your property.


Coverage for the tree and garden: The tree and garden were damaged by the peril of “impact by land vehicle,” which is a listed peril in the wordings.

The policy covers the tree to a maximum of $1,000 including the cost for debris removal.

The resulting damage to your garden is covered as well. Remember, if you have a single plant valued over $1,000, the $1,000 per-plant cap applies.

*Disclaimer:  Please contact one of our Licensed Insurance Agents or Brokers to discuss your coverage requirements for your lawns, outdoor trees, shrubs and plants. This ensures a full understanding of the coverage being provided, along with any possible limitations and/or exclusions.

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