Garden sheds or outbuildings often house high value items such as bicycles, power tools, lawn mowers, garden furniture and gardening equipment, which makes them a very attractive target for thieves, especially because they tend to be located away from the home. The value of what is stored in our sheds can easily add up to hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds.

Lockdown saw a high number of people replacing their garden sheds/outbuildings with attractive summerhouses or converting existing sheds/outbuildings into outdoor bars, home offices, gyms or even extra living space. It is easy to underestimate how much the contents housed in these sheds/outbuildings are worth and forget to include them on your home insurance policy. If a storm caused damage to your shed/outbuilding, or the contents were stolen, could you afford to fund the repair or the cost of replacing the items?

Is your shed/outbuilding covered by your home insurance policy?

Home insurance is made up of two parts:

1) Buildings insurance, which covers the structure and the fixed fittings of a property – including sheds/outbuildings/greenhouses/summerhouses within the boundary of the property.

2) Contents insurance, which covers furniture and possessions found inside those buildings.

Buildings insurance typically provides cover to repair the structure of outbuildings such as sheds, outbuildings, greenhouses, summerhouses which are damaged by:

  • Fire
  • Storms and severe weather
  • Flooding
  • Subsidence and heave

Contents insurance typically covers the cost to repair or replace items stored inside outbuildings on your property that are:

  • Stolen
  • Vandalised or maliciously damaged
  • Damaged or destroyed by fire, water or a storm

It is vital to include the contents of your shed or outbuilding when estimating the value of your home contents, and to note any specific high value items. Your belongings will be covered up to a maximum limit altogether. There is often a separate limit for items stored in sheds/outbuildings on your property and there may also be a limit for a single item. This is typically around £1500.

If there’s anything in your shed/outbuilding that is worth more than the single-item limit specified on your policy, you will have to declare it.

It is also worth bearing in mind that any high value items, for example bikes, which are damaged or stolen when you take them off your property, won’t be covered unless you have opted for cover away from home – sometimes referred to as personal belongings cover.

You should check your home insurance policy details to see exactly what is and isn’t included.

How to calculate the value of the contents of your shed/outbuilding?

To calculate the value of your contents, start by making a list of all the items of value that you store in your shed/outbuilding/greenhouse/summerhouse. Next, estimate how much each item is worth. This needs to be the amount that it would cost to replace the item today, which may not be the same price you originally paid for it. You might be surprised at how quickly the value adds up.

It is important to be as accurate as you can when estimating how much the contents are worth, so you are covered for their full value. If you underestimate the value of the contents and find yourself needing to make a claim, if you are under-insured, your insurance pay-out won’t be enough to cover the cost of replacing or repairing the items.

What buildings/contents aren’t covered by your home insurance policy?

Home insurance will not cover:

  • Outbuildings that are not located on your property. For example, if you have a shed located on an allotment. If you have personal belongings cover, it may cover any gardening equipment or tools that you take with you for the day. However, it is best not to leave anything stored there overnight unless you have arranged separate insurance cover.
  • Sheds and outbuildings that aren’t properly secured. You will need to refer to your policy details to see what security measures you are expected to take, as these could differ between insurers.
  • Outbuildings you rent out. If you have a self-contained unit, for example an annex with its own kitchen and bathroom, you should look at taking out landlord insurance. If your outbuildings are rented-out for storage, you will need commercial property insurance.
  • Cars or motorbikes stored in your outbuildings.You will need to insure these separately.
  • Any high value bicycles if the value exceeds the single item limit on your policy.

What steps can you take to keep your shed/outbuilding secure?

If no effort has been made to secure your shed/outbuilding, then it is possible that your insurance provider could refuse to pay out if anything is stolen.

  • It is important to keep your shed/outbuilding securely locked. This is a requirement of your insurance policy. An additional visible padlock could deter thieves from attempting to break-in.
  • Keep your shed/outbuilding well lit. Outdoor security lighting is an excellent deterrent for thieves, especially a motion sensor light.
  • Keep valuable items hidden. If you keep high value items in your shed/outbuilding, try to ensure they are not visible from the outside. Cover items with dust sheets or lock them away in cupboards. Blinds or frosted window film can help to shield contents from prying eyes.
  • Install an alarm. An alarm will give you the peace of mind of being immediately alerted to any break ins, if and when they happen. You can get battery operated alarms if there is no power to the shed/outbuilding.
  • Security mark any tools. This can act as a deterrent, especially if you make it clear that the shed/outbuilding contents are marked. It could also help you recover your tools if they are stolen.
  • Plant deterrents around the shed/outbuilding. Consider placing low-growing, spiky plants underneath the windows to make access more difficult.

Tony Buckingham, Managing Director of Buckingham Insurance says, “It can be easy to overlook or underestimate the contents of your sheds, outbuildings or summerhouses when you are looking for a home insurance quote. The contents may well be covered on your home insurance but there is often a separate limit for items stored in sheds/outbuildings on your property, and there may also be a limit for a single item. It is important that you estimate the value of the contents carefully to make sure you don’t end up with less cover than you actually need, as repairing and replacing items can prove costly.”

If you would like to discuss your insurance needs, please contact us or telephone one of our friendly staff on 01246 575 625 (Clowne) or 01773 748 627 (Ripley). They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.”

Who is Buckingham Insurance?

Buckingham Insurance is an independent general insurance broker. From our offices in both Clowne and Ripley, we have been serving households and businesses across Derbyshire and South Yorkshire for over 40 years. Our brokers provide our customers with professional, impartial help and advice about their personal and business insurance, and our extensive relationships in the insurance markets mean that we can provide tailored cover from the UK’s leading insurance companies and specialist providers.

We aim to offer a truly modern broker experience. We pride ourselves on putting our clients first, and the quality of the service we offer is demonstrated by our growing client base and the high number of clients that choose to stay with us, year after year.