Solved! Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Fences?
The answer to the question “Does homeowners insurance cover fences?” depends on whether the policy includes “other structures” coverage, as well as the cause of the fence damage.
Q: We just finished putting up a fence around our backyard and because we live on a busy street, we’re concerned about the cost of repairing it if it should get damaged. Does homeowners insurance cover fences, or will we need to purchase special insurance to protect our fence?
A: “Does homeowners insurance cover fences?” is a common question if you’ve just spent a lot of money to have a fence built. The good news is that you may already have coverage for your fence through the “other structures” portion of your homeowners insurance policy. Other structures coverage is designed to cover detached garages, garden sheds, fences, or any other detached structure on the homeowner’s property. However, “other structures” coverage does have a limit, and it will typically exclude the same perils that aren’t covered by your homeowners insurance. In these cases, you may have to cover the full cost of fence repair out of pocket.
Your fence is typically covered by homeowners insurance if you have up-to-date “other structures” coverage.
Policies from the best homeowners insurance companies (such as Allstate or Lemonade) help protect homeowners from the financial burden of repairing or rebuilding their home or replacing their belongings if they are damaged or destroyed by a covered event. Many policies will include coverage for detached structures as well as for the main dwelling.
“Other structures” coverage is designed to cover detached structures on a property, such as a detached garage or house fence, from covered events like fire damage or damage caused by windstorms. After finding the best fencing company and paying the often high cost to install a fence, homeowners will want to check their homeowners insurance policy to make sure it includes “other structures” coverage. Most policies include fences in “other structures” coverage, but it’s a good idea for homeowners to double-check.
“Other structures” coverage will help pay to repair or replace your fence if it sustains damage from a covered event, such as a fire, vandalism, or a windstorm, unless specifically excluded by your policy.
Just like dwelling coverage helps pay to repair the main structure of a home, “other structures” coverage helps pay to repair or rebuild structures such as fences and garden sheds after a covered incident. Coverage is typically included for certain natural weather events, like windstorms and wildfire coverage. So homeowners who are wondering “Is a blown-over fence covered by homeowners insurance?” will be happy to know the answer is usually yes.
“Other structures” coverage isn’t limited to weather-related incidents. Damage from non-natural events, such as vandalism, is usually covered as well. For example, if an intruder defaces and damages a fence for a house, a homeowners insurance policy will likely cover the damage, although the deductible might end up being higher than the cost to repair the damage.
Coverage doesn’t include every peril, however—homeowners insurance policies usually have specific coverage exclusions. Two of the most common exclusions are for flood and earthquake damage, and a homeowner who wants coverage for these perils will usually need to take out additional policies.
A fence or other type of unattached structure is typically covered at 10 percent of a home’s dwelling coverage limit.
In addition to coverage exclusions, “other structures” coverage has a limit to how much it will pay out for a claim. In most cases, this limit is 10 percent of the home’s dwelling coverage limit. For instance, if a home has a dwelling coverage limit of $400,000, the homeowner could receive up to $40,000 in coverage for other structures.
For many homeowners, having 10 percent of their dwelling coverage limit for “other structures” coverage is adequate to cover fences and any other damaged detached structures. However, homeowners with expensive fences, such as ornate stone fencing or a specialized storm fence, or those who have multiple large sheds may want to consider their coverage needs. In the event of an incident that causes a total loss, these more expensive structures could potentially cost more to rebuild than they are covered for.
It may not be worth it to file an insurance claim if the repair cost is less than the deductible on your “other structures” coverage.
On the other hand, homeowners with less expensive fencing options, such as a tree fence around fruit trees or a garden, may find their fences cost less to repair out of pocket. All homeowners insurance companies require homeowners to pay a deductible before they will pay a claim. A deductible is the share of the claim that the homeowner is responsible for. For example, if the claim is for $4,000 and the deductible is $500, the insurer will pay $3,500 and the policyholder will pay $500. If the deductible is more than the cost of repairing the fence, filing a homeowners insurance claim isn’t worth the cost.
For example, if a tree fell on a basic wooden fence and caused $300 worth of damage, it wouldn’t be worth the homeowner’s time to file a claim if their deductible was $500. Additionally, filing a claim in this case would likely bump the policy premium up at renewal time. That means skipping a claim could also help homeowners pay less for homeowners insurance in the long run.
An insurance provider will generally deny a claim if the homeowner failed to properly maintain the fence prior to the damage occurring.
Homeowners insurance companies typically require policyholders to keep their homes in a reasonable state of repair by staying on top of routine maintenance. If an insurer discovers that a homeowner has not been maintaining their home, it will be more likely to deny a claim. This also applies to detached structures such as fences—homeowners insurance companies likely won’t approve a claim for a damaged fence if it is found to have been in disrepair prior to the loss.
As an example, a wood fence that’s rotting due to moisture damage that suffers additional damage during a windstorm is not likely to be covered by homeowners insurance because the homeowner is expected to keep the fence in good condition. The insurer would consider the homeowner negligent for not repairing the damage when it first occurred and would likely deny any claims that resulted in further damage to the fence. Homeowners can reduce their risk of having a claim denied due to negligence by performing regular maintenance on their fences. Using paint or stain as a wooden fence cover or outdoor fence covering, for example, could help prevent moisture in the fence material. Likewise, homeowners may want to replace old fences with new materials to help prevent fence depreciation.
If your fence is damaged after a neighbor’s tree falls on it, the repair or replacement may be covered by the neighbor’s insurance policy.
Homeowners insurance for a fence covers damage from a fallen tree, even if the tree didn’t originate from the homeowner’s property. If a neighbor’s tree falls on the policyholder’s fence and causes damage, the neighbor’s homeowners insurance may cover the cost.
However, homeowners are generally encouraged to file a claim with their own insurance company if a neighbor’s tree falls on their fence. After the homeowner files a claim, the homeowner’s insurance company may look to the neighbor’s insurance company for compensation, a process called subrogation, depending on the cause of the tree falling. Homeowners insurance might also cover the cost of removing the fallen tree and debris.
If a homeowner notices that a neighbor’s tree is looking diseased or damaged, and therefore at a higher risk of falling onto their fence, they might want to talk with their neighbor about the problem. This could give the neighbor a chance to cut dying limbs or remove a dead tree before it becomes a hazard to the homeowner’s fence.
In the event a car crashes into your fence and causes damage, the driver’s liability insurance may cover the cost of repair or replacement.
While homeowners may not expect a car to crash into their fencing, accidents do happen. Whether the cause is slippery roads or inebriated drivers, cars can easily run into fences that sit near roadways. However, homeowners may wonder how they’re supposed to file an insurance claim if a car hits their fence.
In many cases, the driver’s liability portion of their car insurance policy will cover the cost of repairing the damage to the fence. Liability coverage helps pay for the damage the driver is found responsible for causing, including damage to someone else’s property and any injuries. Since a driver that crashes into a homeowner’s fence is damaging another person’s property, they could be held liable for the damages.
If the driver doesn’t have insurance or their insurance won’t cover the cost, the homeowner can typically file a claim with their own homeowners insurance. However, the homeowner will also likely have to pay their deductible if they file a claim with their own insurance, which would not be the case if the claim were to be handled by the driver’s insurance.
Fence damage caused by certain weather-related events, such as a flood or earthquake, will not be covered by a homeowners insurance policy.
Homeowners insurance policies typically cover damage from certain weather-related events. For example, homeowners insurance typically covers tornado damage to structures, including fences. Some natural disasters, however, are specifically excluded from almost all homeowners insurance policies. This generally includes damage caused by flooding and earthquakes.
Flooding and earthquakes can cause major damage to structures—from the foundation of a home to a fence on the property. Homeowners insurance companies protect their interests by excluding these natural disasters from basic homeowners insurance.
Homeowners who are at risk of floods or earthquakes aren’t out of luck, however. They can purchase separate flood insurance or earthquake insurance policies to protect their homes and other structures.
In addition, fence damage caused by termites or another type of pest is not covered by homeowners insurance.
Pests that can damage fences, such as termites, are generally considered by insurance companies to be a home maintenance issue. Insurance companies expect homeowners to watch for signs of termites and other pests as part of their ongoing home and fence maintenance. If pests are found, it’s typically the homeowner’s responsibility to address the problem ASAP.
If the homeowner misses signs of pest damage in their fence, the homeowners insurance company will likely deny any claims related to fence damage. As an example, a tree falls on a fence and the homeowner files a claim. When the insurance adjuster comes to inspect the damage, they find signs of termite damage in the fallen fence. In this case, the insurance company would more than likely deny the claim.
When filing a fence damage insurance claim, you’ll want to document the damage with photos, and you may be required to obtain a repair estimate.
If a homeowner finds fence damage and they think it might be covered by their homeowners insurance, the first step is for them to document the damage. This generally includes taking pictures. It’s recommended that homeowners take pictures of the damage and scene of the incident before doing any cleanup or repairs. If the homeowner removes debris or makes repairs to the fence, they might void their insurance claim.
As an example, a homeowner may decide to cut up a tree after it falls on their fence and remove the limbs from their property before filing an insurance claim. Their claim may be denied because the homeowner removed the evidence of the incident.
Insurance companies may also require homeowners to get a repair estimate before paying out a claim. This helps the insurance company and adjusters determine the cost of the fence repair. This is also a good way for a homeowner to determine whether it’s worth it to file a claim or take care of the repairs themselves.