How to make an insurance claim for your backyard
PSA: Maintain current records of what you have, before you ever have to make a claim. “You’re going to need to support your claim by documenting what’s happened, what’s been lost and what the damage is,” says Karageorgos. “Keep an inventory, keep photos, and keep receipts.” He recommends quickly storing everything in the cloud, for both convenience, and in the event that your files are lost, too.
These records will be integral if you have to make a home fire claim. “For example, there was a house fire and it spread to the deck, having photos of what the deck looked like before, and what condition the property was in, is important,” says Karageorgos. “Or if your barbecue blows up, you’ll want a record of what kind of barbecue it is and how much you paid for it.”
Once you submit your claim, it becomes a team effort. You’ll have to support your claim by explaining what happened; statements or reports by the fire department, police or hospital may be required. “You may have to help the adjuster,” says Karageorgos. “Their role is to help you settle, and if you’re an active participant, everything will go smoother.”
(For more on whether to make a claim or for fix up a fire at home, read this.)
Can you have a backyard fire if you rent your home?
If you’re renting and you want to add upgrades like a fire pit or heat lamps to your outdoor space, check with your landlord first and foremost. “The landlord is typically responsible for the building structures, and anything that’s fixed or attached to it,” says Karageorgos. “If you’re adding things without the landlord’s permission or agreement that could cause problems”—namely with your rental agreement.
Even if you’re adding a feature that’s not permanent, like a fire pit, it still increases risk. If you don’t inform your landlord, even as a tenant, you can be found responsible for an accident. Protect yourself: Get permission and make sure it’s covered. Updating your tenant insurance can’t hurt either.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the paperwork. If a safe space or a sanctuary in your yard is just what you need, it could be worth the effort.