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If you’re a homeowner, the right homeowners insurance policy is a smart part of any financial plan. That’s because your homeowners insurance is used to help protect your finances against losses from damage or destruction caused by certain types of perils or natural disasters. Without homeowners insurance, you may be stuck paying for these types of costly repairs out of your own pocket. And your homeowners insurance policy doesn’t just protect the four walls you live in. In many cases, your home insurance will cover your fence in your yard, too.
That said, it’s important to note that you do not get blanketed coverage for fence repairs from your homeowners insurance provider. The protection you get from your home insurance policy depends heavily on what caused the damage to the fence. As such, it can be helpful to review and understand your homeowners insurance policy details. To help you do that, Bankrate has summarized below the key things to know about home insurance coverage for fences.
What part of a home insurance policy might cover fence damage?
Your home insurance policy includes different coverage types, like dwelling insurance for your house itself and personal property coverage for your belongings. It also usually includes other structures coverage, which extends to things built on your property that do not attach to your home like sheds, detached garages and — you guessed it — fences.
A standard home insurance policy provides you with other structures coverage, typically 10 percent of your overall dwelling coverage. So if your dwelling is insured for $400,000, you would usually have $40,000 in other structures coverage that can go toward things like fence repairs if damaged from a covered claim. The specific amount of other structures coverage is listed on the declaration page of your homeowners policy.
As you look over your policy, it can also be beneficial to review the covered perils, which are the instances in which your homeowners insurance will cover expenses. Almost all home insurance policies will provide coverage for fire, theft and windstorm claims, for example, but usually exclude coverage for floods and earthquakes.
Generally, policies fall into two categories: those that cover named perils and those covering open perils. Although named-perils for your dwelling and other structures coverage is relatively rare, if you have it, your home insurance covers damage whenever something specifically listed or named in your policy occurs. With open perils, you get coverage unless the incident is specifically excluded.
In both cases, you would still have a deductible apply in the event of the claim. This means that the deductible amount you chose will be deducted from your insurance provider’s claim payout amount.
Look over your policy to understand when you would have protection — and what may be excluded. To get you started, we summarized some common instances of fence damage and whether or not they are considered insured losses.
What kind of fence damage is covered by home insurance?
Here is a quick look at some of the most common causes of fence damage and whether or not you could file a home insurance claim for them.
Wear and tear
Wear and tear is not covered by home insurance for your fence or any other part of your home. Your homeowners insurance company holds you responsible for performing the required maintenance around your home.
In fact, if you neglect maintenance, your claim could be denied. Say a strong wind blows over your fence. If your home insurance company finds that the fence was already falling apart because you were not maintaining it properly, coverage might be denied.
Tree falls on the fence
Whether the tree was on your property or your neighbors, you can file a claim through your home insurance, since it was your property that was damaged. If the tree is on your neighbor’s property and your insurance company finds that the limb or tree fell because your neighbor was negligent in their tree maintenance, it may try to recover the costs from your neighbor’s insurer.
The same can hold true for you: if you fail to properly maintain your trees and one falls or drops a limb on your fence, your insurance company might deny coverage.
Standard home insurance policies offer coverage for repairs of damaged fences after a windstorm, hailstorm or a lightning strike.
But if you live in a coastal area, especially if you are prone to hurricanes, your policy might exclude wind damage to fences from named weather events. Review your policy specifics to see if you should seek out a windstorm insurance endorsement or your policy may already include a separate windstorm deductible for named storms. A “hurricane deductible” is typically 1 percent to 5 percent of your home’s insured value.
Homeowners insurance usually covers vandalism. So if your fence gets damaged by vandals or graffitied, your policy could pay out for the necessary repairs (up to your policy limits).
A car hit the fence
While your home insurance can pay for repairs to a fence hit by a vehicle, you may also use the responsible driver’s property damage liability coverage, which is required in most states. In other words, because the damage is their fault, their car insurance liability coverage should pay for the property damage they caused to your fence.
Termites, along with all other pests and infestations, are not covered by homeowners insurance. Your home insurance company considers termite damage a home maintenance issue, which means you will need to cover the cost of getting rid of the termites and repairing your fence.
How do you file a claim for fence damage?
Start by gathering evidence. Before you tackle any repairs or clean up, take pictures of the fence.
Then, determine if you want to contact your home insurance company. It may want to send a claims adjuster out to look at the fence before you start repairs or ask you to submit photos of the damage via its mobile app or claims website.
The main thing to consider here is your deductible. Say your home insurance deductible is $1,000. If you think the fence will only cost a couple hundred dollars to repair, you may want to skip filing a claim. Why? You would still be responsible for the repairs up to $1,000, and filing a claim can cause the cost of your home insurance to increase even if nothing is paid out. You could lose a claims-free discount, for example.
If you think the damage will exceed your deductible and consequently want to file a home insurance claim, you can usually start the claims process by calling your insurance company or insurance agent, submitting the claim online via the insured’s website or through the insurer’s mobile app. Your insurance provider should give you the next steps for your claim.
Frequently asked questions
It depends. If you’re changing your fence or updating it for cosmetic reasons, you typically do not need to notify your insurance provider of the changes unless they add value to the fence. However, if you’re upgrading your fence and think it could cost more to replace than your prior fence, not alerting your home insurance company of the changes could cause you to be underinsured with your other structures coverage. In that case, you may want to review your policy details and speak to your insurance agent about your new fence to ensure that you have adequate protection.
Your other structures coverage typically extends to the structures on your property that are not attached to your house. This may include structures like a fully finished detached garage or a simple backyard shed, and may also include coverage for in-ground pools, driveways and gazebos.
Remember that you usually get up to 10 percent of your dwelling insurance amount for other structures coverage. If you have multiple other structures or high-value ones, like in-law quarters with a kitchen and bath or an extremely long fence, the standard coverage limit might not be enough. In that case, contact your insurance professional to determine if you can increase your other structures coverage policy limit.