Does home insurance include insurance cover for fence damage? Who’s responsible if a tree comes crashing down on your shared fence or your fencing is vandalised? Knowing the answers to these questions can save you time and money.
Whether you’re researching what you are covered for or you are currently in a situation where you might need to file a home insurance claim, here are the answers to five frequently asked questions that might be at the top of your mind.
Insurance Cover for Fence Damage – Frequently Asked Questions
1. Does Home Insurance Cover Fences?
Yes, in many cases. While your fence isn’t technically part of your home, damage to fencing on or around your property will often be covered by your home insurance. It’s not quite as simple as that, though. There are conditions that may prevent your fence damage from qualifying for cover.
As with most questions relating to home insurance, it’s all about the details. For example, when you have a standard policy, insurance companies will normally look at the cause of the damage and factors such as the identity and nature of the guilty party. They will also consider the physical location of your fence.
The extent of your fence damage is another typical consideration with ordinary policies. In other words, how much of the fence is damaged and how badly. It’s worth noting that even when you qualify to make a claim, coverage will probably be capped at a certain percentage of the total coverage of your policy.
2. When Isn’t Fence Damage Covered by Insurance?
There are several circumstances where fence damage will not be covered by your home insurance. One such situation is when a property owner has wood fence damage. With wooden fences, damage that results from wear and tear, mould and termite infestations is generally not covered by insurance policies.
Fence damage that occurs due to negligence typically also isn’t covered by home insurance. Examples of negligence include landscaping mishaps, hitting your fence with your car (it’s different if somebody else crashes into your fence) and ignoring unhealthy trees that are at risk of falling on your property.
Forces of nature like storms, floods and earthquakes may not be covered by some home insurance policies, unless your policy specifically protects against these threats. Of course, the best way to know what insurance cover for fence damage you have is to check what is and isn’t covered by your insurance plan.
3. What Can You Do If Your Fence Damage Isn’t Covered?
If a fence on your property sustains damage and your insurance policy doesn’t cover it, then unfortunately you will need to foot the bill in full for any fencing repair or replacement expenses. This can be very costly, depending on the damage. For this reason, it is prudent to take steps to avoid damage to your fence.
Measures that homeowners can take to avoid damage to their fencing include frequently pruning nearby trees, removing/securing trees and structures that are at risk of falling and properly maintaining fences. It certainly makes sense to examine your fence for damaged areas and weak points on a regular basis.
One of the most important things that a homeowner can do to prevent fence damage is to hire professional fencing contractors when installing new fencing. To save money, some property owners opt to install fences themselves. But this can actually end up costing a lot more and affect the integrity of the fence.
4. What About When You’re Just Renting the Home?
Landlords are responsible for ensuring that their rental property is in a condition fit to be occupied. The structure must be weatherproofed and waterproofed, with effective plumbing, heat and electrical. Landlords are also responsible for removing hazards and maintaining the grounds, of which fences form part of.
Renters that have a fence that is damaged should contact their landlord. If you’re the owner of the property, then you are obligated by law to have the fence repaired or replaced, provided that the tenants or any of their guests did not cause the damage and the damage is not beyond what is considered normal wear and tear.
Tenants are not liable for fence damage that results from extreme weather conditions/events or vandalism. These fall under the landlord’s home insurance, and home insurance usually includes insurance cover for fence damage. It’s up to the property owner to take the necessary steps to repair or replace the fence.
5. How Should You Handle a Shared Fence Insurance Claim?
This is a difficult question that doesn’t always have a straightforward answer. How a home owner should handle a shared fence claim depends on the circumstances. In general, the type of fence damage that occurred and the location of the fence and fence damage will dictate who is responsible and how to proceed.
If the fence or damage resides on your neighbour’s property, then they should file the claim with their insurance company. If the fence/damage sits entirely on your property or land, then you should claim. That leaves the possible scenario of when the fence lies on the property line between neighbours.
With fences that sit on the property line (where one property ends and another begins), a claim for fence damage can be split between two homeowners who share a fence, as long as both parties file a claim – a shared fence insurance claim. More commonly, though, only one individual will claim for the damage.