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Question DetailsAsked on 10/31/2017

My wooden fence was blown down (only half of it) will my insurance company cover to install a vinyl one?

Do not want to replace a wooden fence, I am older now and would like vinyl which has little up keep, will my insurance company cover my wooden fence with a vinyl one?

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1 Answer


Appears my first response got lost in the Angies List system - it may pop up later. Anyway, similar replacement here.

Be sure to get any agreement IN WRITING from the insurance company BEFORE going ahead with the repair/replacement - as to how much they will pay for a non-identical replacement fence. Generally, the insurance company will pay, under the terms of the contract, for the repair (or replacement if not reasonably or economically repairable) for the coverage your policy offers - which may be replacement cost (minus your deductible amount), or depending on your policy terms may be a depreciated amount based on probably a 15 or maybe 20 year (for treated wood fences) life, again minus your policy deductible.

So - if you have replacement cost coverage (which costs more) - they might pay for new fence replacement cost (including removal of destroyed fence) - but most likely only for the destroyed half, not all of it. Or, if the fence itself is essentially intact or readily repairable but the posts just broke off they might pay only for new posts and repairing and putting the panels back up, but not totally new fence. Minus your policy deductible on any claims you put in related to that storm. And if you have other damage, generally you have to wrap it into one claim to avoid separate deductibles for each type of repair needed. For instance, individuall roof and siding and fence claims might result in three deductibles being charged against you, so be careful on that. Some insurance companies are real snakes. other will automatically wrap multiple claims into one "incident" case for all damage occurring in one loss event.

With depreciation or amortized type coverage, they would figure the remaining useful life of the fence at the time it was damaged and pay you only that portion of the repair/replacement cost as applicable, again minus your deductible. So - say their tables use a 15 year life (a common number for untreated wood fence and what the IRS uses) but it was already 13 years old - they might pay 2/15th's of the repair/replacement cost for the portion of its remaining life at the time, minus your deductible - which might with an older fence end up with them paying nothing.

Another possibility is if the failure was due to the posts rotating out of the soil (which they might call a foundation failure and not cover, especially if the winds did not hit Hurricane status or result from a declared tornado) or broke because of rot or insect damage which they might call progressive long-term failure and again not cover under long-term water or insect damage exclusions under your policy - this is very common with fence claims, so you might end up not even being coveared by your insurance depending on policy terms and how nit picky your carrier is. I have seen radical coverage differences on payments on neihbor properties for the same loss event between different carriers like between Allstate and State Farm or Geico, for instance - sometimes one covering all claimed losses while another covers little or none.

Also - bear in mind the coverage for a fence is likely to be under Miscellaneous Structures / Associated Structures or Landscaping or similar coverage, which is commonly limited to 10% of the coverage limit you have on the house itself - so again they might cover less than you think if a large or fancy fence.


Now - on the vinyl fence instead of wood issue - generally (though get it in writing) they will pay based on their adjusted claim amount (or a quote or two from a fence company which you provide) for the repair/replacement of the damaged section. Most insurance companies allow you to be paid based on that estimate but actually do the repair/replacement in an upgraded way, at your expense, as long as you end up with equivalent or "better" result. So - upgrade from wood to vinyl or stone/brick fence would commonly be allowed, changing to chain link (which costs less) would result in the adjusted claim being refigured to chain link. The basic rule is you should replace in-kind or upgraded and end up with at least as good a feature as was damaged - go cheaper or lower-grade and the claim will be downgraded to that cost. And it is generally illegal for you to get more $ out of a claim (including any amortization or deductible amount) than the job actually costs. So in your case, while they are paying based on repair/replacement of the wood fence, any added cost to change that to vinyl or other product or to replace the entire fence rather than just the damaged portion would totally come out of your pocket.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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