By and large, gardens (comprising soil, grass, trees and plants) are not covered by insurance policies as part of buildings or improvements. Gardens are ‘in the open’ and exposed to the elements with little or no protection against loss or damage. Some insurers do acknowledge that ‘landscaped gardens’ that contain professionally designed and laid features, do require some form of limited cover in event of certain loss or damage circumstances.
Most sectional title insurance policies provide a limited form of cover for landscaped gardens (say R5,000 to R10,000) where damages are caused by emergency vehicles in attending a fire. Some insurers go a little further to specify certain loss events only, e.g. fire, explosion, impact by vehicles, impact by aircraft and or articles dropped from there.
It is important to scrutinise your policy wording with regard to this cover, being an extended benefit only, as these differ from insurer to insurer. It should not be expected that an insurer cover garden landscaping against the likes of theft, storm (floodwater, wind, rain, hail, snow), malicious damage, earthquake, burst underground pipes, subsidence and landslip, etc.
Where a tree falls over and causes damage to the buildings or to insured improvements, most insurers also provide cover (normally limited to R5,000) for costs to removal of the tree. However, please note that if the tree does not damage any part of the insured buildings, the cover does not apply. The cover usually excludes the cost of roots and stump removal.
In the case of landslide, rockfall and tempest events that may result in rock, soil and vegetation debris deposit on your gardens, the policy would only respond to debris removal costs where the buildings are damaged and the debris is obstructing the building re-instatement process.
So, understandably it is important to realise that these covers/benefit extensions are rather more limited and/or specific in their response in certain circumstances.
Author Brian Addison
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