Helen Nugent

There’s a shed-load of valuables in your garden, but are you insured?

There's a shed-load of valuables in your garden, but are you insured?
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Ah, Chelsea. Or in my case, ah, Tatton. It's that time of year again when the Royal Horticultural Society revs up for its slew of annual flower shows, allowing us green-fingered enthusiasts the chance to seek out the lesser-spotted Titchmarsh and the perennially pleasing Monty Don.

It's also a good time to do an inventory of our own gardens, not least the garden shed. You might not know it, but that building at the bottom of the lawn could be harbouring a shed-load of uninsured valuables.

While a fair few sheds are home to nothing more than old pots, bits of string and rusty shovels, many are full of items that thieves would like to get their hands on. According to new research by insurance provider Policy Expert, the average household stashes £1,787 of valuables in sheds and garages, with one in 10 containing more than £5,000 worth of kit.

Items range from DIY and gardening tools to rare cars, furniture and musical instruments. But half of all sheds are uninsured, leaving thousands of pounds worth of valuables at risk of damage or theft. For instance, do you know if your insurance plan covers the shed?

Adam Powell, head of operations at Policy Expert, said: 'People store all sorts of items in their sheds and garages and it’s easy to overlook the sheer value of these possessions. For that reason, people can’t forget that outbuildings are often seen as an easy target for opportunistic thieves.  When choosing an insurance policy, it’s really important to check the small-print and make sure that the contents of your outbuildings are included.  That means you need to check whether the value of the contents in your shed is covered by your existing outbuildings insurance. And if you have a prized possession hidden in your shed, make sure you declare this specific item to your insurer. It’s also worth investing in some additional security measures such as external lighting – and not just for peace of mind, it could bring your premium down too.'

Policy Expert's research found that two in two in five people use their shed as a workshop, one in ten use it as a ‘Man Cave’, and 6 per cent have turned it into a makeshift gym or workout space. Meanwhile, the most common items stored in sheds and outbuildings include garden tools and lawn mowers.

My Dad's shed is crammed with stuff, including the sledge I broke my coccyx on when I was 16 and a shop till dating back to the 1960s. What's in your shed? Respondents to Policy Expert's survey revealed some of their more unusual (and pricey) items, including a £7,000 hot tub, £4,000 of vintage crockery and a £500 dove house.

So if you're worried about your, er, dove house, make sure to take precautions in order to deter thieves. Measures include installing security such as a good lock, shielding valuable items from view and protecting your shed from severe weather conditions.

Helen Nugent is Online Money Editor of The Spectator