According to the latest data from MoneySuperMarket, the average British garden contains £1,457 worth of valuable items, but 59% of those polled admit their outdoor belongings are not listed on their home insurance policies, potentially leaving £32.9 billion worth of goods at risk of theft.
Although standard buildings and contents insurance policies usually include a certain amount of cover for garden items, people could be leaving themselves exposed.
The most common items that Brits keep in their gardens include furniture (57%), DIY tools (48%), bikes (36%) and BBQs (38%). Of the 29% that have been victims of garden theft, the most commonly stolen items are bikes, (32%) lawn mowers and gardening tools (19%). Over a fifth (29%) of those who have had items stolen from outside didn’t have those items insured, leaving them at a loss. Despite their common nature and often high value, only 20% of Brits have ever insured their bike under their home insurance policy.
The data also highlights the regional differences between the value of items stored outside, finding that those living in London have the highest value items (a total of £1,792), overtaking the West Midlands who had the highest regional average in 2019 (£1,525). Gardens in Wales contain the lowest value items (£1,222), a £169 decrease on the region’s average in 2019.
Those living in the London not only have items that total the highest amount stored in their garden, but they’re also the most likely to have had items stolen previously at 38%, compared to the national average of 29%.
Top tips to keep gardens and sheds safe this summer:
Lock valuables away
One of the first questions your insurance provider will ask in the event of a claim is if your valuables were locked away in a shed or outbuilding, and you’ll often be asked for proof of forced entry. If they weren’t you may find you’re not covered depending on the amount and level of cover included in your home insurance policy. Getting into the habit of locking valuables away will the reduce risk of voiding your cover in the future.
Defend your property
Fitting locks to gates and having lighting in your garden is a good way to put off any would-be thieves. Planting shrubs and bushes along your borders can also deter unwanted visitors gaining access to your garden by climbing over walls.
Secure your bikes
Often the most valuable item stored outside will be a bike. Even if you put bikes inside your locked shed, lock the bikes themselves or chain them to an immovable object. Some policies stipulate that you do this and this will reduce the risk of possibly voiding your home insurance cover.
Know your policy
Policies vary by provider and type, so it’s important you are familiar with and understand what your policy covers. Items that are moveable, such as garden furniture or equipment, count as contents. Insurers often limit the amount you can claim for items in your garden, usually with a separate limit for those in an outbuilding or shed.
Kate Devine, head of home insurance at MoneySuperMarket, commented: “As we look ahead to the potential lift of lockdown in the summer months, we can expect to see Brits heading out of the house to enjoy outdoor activities. Particularly in these months, there’s the temptation to leave items of value outside overnight or keep your shed unlocked. This can, however, leave you open to a risk of burglary and in turn, possibly void your home insurance cover if you need to make a claim. Most standard contents insurance policies include a small amount of cover for garden items, but specifics can vary – so it’s always worth checking to ensure that your valuable outdoor items are fully covered.
“In this period of financial uncertainty, it’s also worth using lockdown as a chance to check if you could get a cheaper premium elsewhere and to take control of your finances. If you haven’t switched for a while, this is likely going to be the case. It takes minutes to switch to a competitive policy and you could save up to £1033 on your bills.”