24th July 2020

Trees and your home insurance

By Suzi Rackley, Dip CII
Client Director
Tree in back garden

Whilst pretty to look at and important for our ecosystem, trees can cause problems such as damaging property or causing subsidence. If you need to act to have a tree made safe and the tree is not yours, it can be difficult and time consuming. You won’t want to fall out with your neighbour, so speak to them first before consulting a tree surgeon and follow the right advice.

What are my duties as a tree owner?

Common law states that you have the responsibility known as “duty of care” to take reasonable precautions to avoid any harm or injury to other people or property, which you can reasonably foresee.

What damage can a tree cause?

As well as the obvious damage that fallen boughs or trees can cause, gutters and drains can get blocked very quickly by falling fruit, leaves and twigs. To avoid having to make a claim for water ingress, it’s important to always keep these areas clear of debris.

Roots are hidden away and damage to drains, hardscaping and neighbouring buildings by roots finding cracks and looking for moisture. This can increase the cracking and cause subsidence which can run into the thousands to repair.

If you are concerned that a tree is damaged, diseased, fallen or poses danger, we recommend you consult a tree surgeon who will give you advice on how to maintain your trees and keep them safe.

As you can see, it can be difficult to get to the root of the problem when it comes to trees (sorry, we couldn't resist!). 

Does my home insurance over tree damage?

Your home insurance may provide cover in several ways:

  • Repair costs following damage to your property caused by a tree falling or branch or roots
  • Your legal liability for repair costs following damage to your neighbour’s property
  • Costs to replace trees after a fire or lightning damage (cover is usually limited)
  • Legal advice and costs if you get into a dispute for nuisance with your neighbour

If a healthy tree just falls during a storm and damages your home, you can claim under your home insurance. If your tree damages your neighbour’s home, they claim under their home insurance.

Your neighbour cannot hold you responsible for the damage unless it is your legal liability and you have neglected your duty of care.

Your home insurance will likely not cover the following:

  • Costs for the removal of a fallen tree
  • Damage to gates, fences, hedges (and in some cases outdoor items) caused by a fallen tree or branch
  • Costs to clear blocked drains and guttering

Every home policy is different, so it is important that you check your policy cover.

If you have any questions about your home insurance cover through us, please contact your Account Handler or if you would like a quote, please call 0208 712 8046.