Is Damage to my Fence covered?



Is Damage to my Fence covered?

 

As a homeowner in an area with a lot of trees (suburban NY), I often have concerns during high winds and hurricane season (this concern is not limited to the Northeast).  Winds, heavy rain, storm damage are regular concerns for many people during Hurricane season.  I’m also regularly concerned about what forces of weather can do to both my home and any other unattached structures.

An area of high importance for me, what I’m concerned about in the event of a weather event, is damage to my fence covered (especially after installing a new fence in the last few years).  Also, will any types of damage to my fence not be covered.

As an insurance professional, these are the types of things that I think of, however it may have not crossed your mind as a insurance consumer and/or average homeowner.

 

Homeowners insurance

Important things to know about whether your fence is covered include reading your homeowners policy and related coverage forms.

Your homeowners insurance will cover the costs of damage to your fence depending on the cause of the damage.   See the other structures articles of your policy for more info.

 

Other Structures

The “other structures” coverage under your home insurance policy covers damage to your fence.   Typically other structures coverages is limited to 10% of your total coverage limit.

 

 

What perils are covered

  • Storm damage
  • Neighborhood vandalism
  • Car crashes into fence
  • Neighbors tree hits fence
  • Your tree hits fence

 

What perils are not covered

  • Damage from lawnmower or landscaper
  • Damage caused by mold or fungus
  • termite infestation,
  • or normal wear-and-tear to your fence is also not covered by your home insurance.

A simple rule of thumb, if your house isn’t covered by such perils/protection, neither is your fence.

 

Common Sources of Fence Damage

  1. Your tree falls on your fence.
    • A policy will typically provide reimbursement for a fence if a healthy tree falls and damages it. It would probably not only pay to repair or replace the fence but also remove the tree debris so that repairs can be made to the fence.
  2. Your neighbor’s tree falls on your fence.
    • It doesn’t matter who owns the tree, says the Insurance Information Institute: If it lands on your fence, you file the claim with your own insurance company. However, if there’s evidence that the tree was weakened because your neighbor overlooked basic maintenance or ignored disease, your insurance company may try to recover its costs from your neighbor’s insurance company (which may also earn you back the deductible you paid when you filed your claim).
  3. A storm damages your fence.
    • Wind-related damage to a fence or another insured structure on your property is typically covered by homeowners insurance — whether it’s the result of a tornado or just a fierce storm.

 

Claims

Refer to the policy for procedures and info for filing a claim.   But good ideas include:

  1. After noticing the issues with a fence, the homeowner will want to take pictures of the damage before beginning to clean up or moving anything.
  2. Having photographs of the destruction to the fence will prove to the insurer that the fence was damaged by natural causes, a vandal, or reckless driving. In the latter two cases, the police report will also serve as substantial proof.
  3. Next, get an estimate made of the damage done to the fence.
  4. Call and notify your insurance company

Again the other structures section will let the homeowner know under which specific circumstances damage to the fence is covered and what that coverage is capped at.

If you can’t find this section, give your agent or insurance company a call for details.

 

Deductibles

You may also want to consider your deductible into account before you file a claim, so you will know the impact your deductible will have on the amount of the loss.  Before filing a claim though, keep in mind that if the total cost of the damage to your fence is less than the cost of your deductible, you may be better off paying for the repairs yourself without making an insurance claim.

 

Miscellaneous

Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for fence damage up to a certain percentage of the policy’s total coverage; this coverage is usually capped at 10%.

 

Thoughts

While on one hand I am glad I got the new fence installed and it looks beautiful, I don’t like the feeling of uncertainty or risk.  I never like knowing that I’ve spent money on something that could potentially expose my net worth or cost me money again in the event of a unforeseen accident (whether by property and investment or any other type of a goods or services).

The good news is the types of accidents that could damage your friends are pretty foreseeable.  Keep in mind not all of them predictable and foreseeable, and your insurance company is willing to take on that risk through your normal homeowners product.

This is the beauty of the insurance product is it allows you (the homeowner) to focus your attention on what type of fence to purchase (i.e. scalloped 6 foot or 4 foot vs. color  vs. vinyl/wood). The peace of mind of knowing that once you installed the fence, that not only has a lifetime guarantee from the installation company, it also has a financial guarantee from your insurance company is a win-win.

These are the scenarios that I love to again in enter into. The expected value on an insurance product specifically for a standalone fence coverage probably would not be a win in expected value, however that it is bundled into the coverage form of your homeowners policy is a very beautiful thing. Making the expected value of this added coverage much greater.

 

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