If you’ve ever watched a tree fall on your fence, you’ll know that the sinking feeling in your stomach is acute. The felled fir or cherry almost seems to fall in slow motion as your eyes widen and your arms raise of their own accord. The sense of helplessness is keen. In the midst of any damage to your property, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not you have fence insurance coverage for that damage. The time to check is now, and while we know insurance jargon can be as tough as overcooked beef, we have some answers for the most common questions about “fence insurance.”
Do I Have Fence Insurance?
The probable answer is technically no, but don’t panic. While most providers won’t offer “fence insurance,” per se, in their smorgasbord of coverage options, your fence is likely covered under your homeowners policy. Your coverage for damage to your fence can be found under the “Other Structures” or “Coverage B” section of your homeowners insurance policy. Typically, the coverage for these other structures is capped at 10% of your total coverage for the rest of the property. If you have a $200,000 policy for your home, your fence is probably covered up to $20,000.
Am I Covered?
Your fence can be damaged in many ways. It serves to protect your property, so it is at risk of taking some heavy hits. Some of the most common causes of fence damage are storm damage (from wind, hail, or lightning), fire, wood rot, termite damage, vandalism, and common wear and tear. Unfortunately, not all damage is created equal when it comes to fence insurance coverage. Let’s break down which damage is usually covered and which is not.
Damages to Your Fence Insurance Will Cover
Does insurance cover a tree falling on your fence? What about fence damage from wind? Good news! The answer is probably yes. If the rest of your property is covered against a specific mishap, that coverage will be reflected for your fence. When it comes to trees and tree limbs, however, keep in mind that if the tree was clearly damaged or decaying before it fell on your fence, it is considered preventable negligence so your provider will probably not cover the damages. This is true whether the tree is on your property or a neighbor’s.
Vandalism like damage caused by a vehicle crashing into your fence is also covered, though we recommend that you first file a claim against the at-fault party’s property damage liability car insurance. Such insurance is required in the state of Utah and will usually cover $10,000 worth of damage at minimum. For very extensive repairs, this can combine with your homeowners policy to cover costs, and for less significant damage, it might mean you don’t have to file a homeowners claim at all (which will save you increased premiums).
What Damages Are Not Covered?
Signs of normal wear and tear or aging are not covered by homeowners insurance. This includes nicks from the lawnmower or hard water sprinkler staining. Biological threats like mold and lichen or a termite infestation are not covered either. If you do not have specific coverage for earthquake or flood damage for the rest of your property, you won’t have it for your fence. The thing to remember is that perils covered for your house should be covered for your fence.
My Fence Was Damaged—Now What?
When you see that your fence has sustained damage, first and foremost, you should take pictures. Your provider will use any images you take to assess the damage and its cause, so leave everything as you found it until you have a visual record. It is also a good idea to record any other relevant details: the time the incident occurred, the circumstances, etc. A police report in cases of vandalism will also ask for this information. It can also back up your claim.
Next, get an estimate from one or more contractors. This will give you real numbers to work with when negotiating with your insurance provider, and it can help you decide if you even want to file a claim. If the cost of mending your fence is less than the deductible for your homeowner’s policy, you might choose to cover the repairs yourself without raising your premiums.
If you do choose to file a claim, be prepared for your provider to ask questions about the incident behind the damage and for them to send out someone to appraise it for themselves. Once this occurs, you can begin negotiations to find a reasonable settlement.
Whether fence damage responsibility rests with nature or man, we want you to feel secure in your fence, so the next time you see storm clouds, you marvel instead of fear. If you are looking for a fence to withstand time, or if you need repairs to a fence insurance companies have declared damaged, give our Bronco Fence contractors a call.