Homeowners insurance is primarily there to protect the policyholder’s home, but it also provides coverage for other structures on the property, including fences. But fence damage is not covered in all situations. Here’s a closer look at when homeowners can file a claim for fence damage and when insurers won’t pay for it.
When does homeowners insurance cover fence damage?
Here’s an overview of some common situations where homeowners insurance pays for fence damage:
If a severe thunderstorm or tornado knocks down a fence or knocks a well-maintained tree over a fence, most insurance companies will cover this as long as there is no wind damage exclusion in the policy terms.
If someone defaces or knocks down your fence, insurers will usually pay for it. That’s because vandalism is listed as a covered peril on most homeowner’s policies.
Damage from a neighboring tree
If a neighbor’s tree falls on the policyholder’s fence, the policyholder can file an insurance claim with their own insurance company. The insurer will likely pay the claim and may pursue the neighbor for damages. Alternatively, the neighbor may agree to file a claim with their homeowners insurance to cover the cost.
Most states require drivers to carry liability insurance, which pays for repairs to someone else’s property that the driver damages in an accident, among other things. Usually, the driver’s policy covers damage to the fence. But a homeowner can still file a fence damage claim with their insurer. Their insurance company may pay out and go after the driver for reimbursement.
When is fence damage not covered by homeowners insurance?
Fence damage is not covered by homeowners coverage in the following situations:
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If the fence is not properly maintained and falls down or is eaten by termites, the homeowner is usually responsible for paying for the repairs.
Damage from the wood on the shelf
Damage to a wooden fence is not always covered. If the tree is on the policyholder’s property and is diseased or poorly maintained, insurance companies view it as a maintenance issue and refuse to cover fence damage.
Flood or earthquake damage
Floods and earthquakes are natural disasters, but they are not usually covered by a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. If homeowners want help repairing a fence after one of these disasters, they must purchase additional insurance. Flood insurance is usually a stand-alone policy, while earthquake insurance can be added as an add-on to an existing insurance policy.
How Much Fence Damage Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
Fences are covered by other structures coverage on a home insurance policy. This also protects detached garages, sheds, etc. The items covered under this policy are usually covered up to 10% of the policy’s home coverage.
For example, if the home itself is insured for $250,000, the fence and other dwellings on the property will be covered up to $25,000.
However, some policies may have different limits. It’s always best to read the fine print before purchasing homeowners insurance to find out what is and isn’t covered.
How to file a claim for fence damage
Homeowners who need to file a claim for fence damage should start by taking photos of the damage before beginning repairs or removing any debris. Send these photos to the insurance company. If the homeowner has any receipts showing the cost of the fence, they can ask to send those as well.
Follow the insurance company’s instructions for filing a claim. It is usually possible to do this online with most major insurers. But some companies may require homeowners to contact an agent by phone to file a claim. If the insurance company has a local presence, homeowners may also be able to visit a nearby office to receive personal assistance.
The insurance company will evaluate the claim and may send someone to the home to inspect the damage. It may also require the homeowner to obtain repair estimates to help determine the amount of the payout. After the insurer processes the claim, it will pay the homeowner for the damage.
How to prevent fence damage
There are several things homeowners can do to prevent fence damage if they want to avoid these insurance claims:
- Maintain the fence properly. Repair broken or rotted boards as needed.
- Cut back dead branches or cut down diseased trees that may fall on the fence.
- Seal or stain wood fences every few years to prevent rotting.