Does home insurance cover tree damage?

If you've got a tree that's giving you grief, your home insurance policy might cover it. Read on to learn when home insurance can help you out.

Last updated:

Got a misbehaving tree? Working out what kind of tree damage cover you can get can be difficult. Luckily, we've done the research to help you get the cover you need. You can get home insurance cover for fallen trees and branches that damage your property as well as some tree root damage.

Find out below what common general exclusions apply, what you can do if your home is damaged by a tree and how to go about getting rid of your neighbour's tree.

You should be covered for fallen trees and branches if they're considered an 'act of nature'.

You won't be covered if the tree fell as a result of pruning, or for damage by tree roots.

How home insurance covers tree damage

The way insurance covers tree damage varies between policies, but generally the following applies:

  • You are covered for falling trees and branches. If a tree or branch falls on your property then you are covered for resulting damage under the "impact" insured event section of the policy. Depending on the policy, this might only be available as an optional extra, and might only cover the cost of removal of debris that actually damaged your home. It typically doesn't cover the costs of digging up and removing tree stumps that remain after a tree falls, or any related landscaping costs.
  • You are not covered for damage caused by tree roots. If tree roots cause damage to your home or its surroundings, you typically won't be covered for the direct damage that results.

However, there are some exceptions that generally apply:

  • You will not be covered for falling trees and branches if: the damage was caused by tree lopping or pruning, either by yourself or someone who was doing it with your approval.
  • You can be covered for tree root damage if: it strangled water pipes, resulting in the release of liquid. Here you might be covered for the damage caused by the escape of liquid, although the cost of repairing the pipes themselves might not be covered.

What to do if you've got a problem tree

Check with your insurer to see if you can have the tree removed. It's often the case that you won't be covered if the tree hasn't done any damage to you or someone else's property. However, if this is the case, contact an arborist. If they recommend it should be removed as it's unsafe, you may be able to go through your home insurance to have it removed. Each policy is different, so remember to read the product disclosure statement before you commit to having the tree removed.

Does home owners insurance cover tree damage to a neighbour’s property?

Your policy or your neighbour’s policy may cover each other if it’s a liability issue and the relevant home insurance policy includes liability cover.

For example, if your neighbour’s tree falls on your home, then your neighbour’s home insurance might cover the damage. If the tree is on your property, then both the tree and its roots may be your responsibility.

Home insurance liability cover is subject to:

  • Any conditions in the liability insurance section of the policy
  • Any conditions in the general exclusions section of the policy

What are general exclusions?

General exclusions are restrictions that apply to all cover types, including the liability component.

For example, a common general exclusion is “movement of the earth”. If a tree’s roots undermine your neighbour’s property and end up causing the ground to collapse, you might not be covered by your policy.

Does home insurance cover tree damage to a car?

If a tree on your property falls on someone else's car, you might be covered by liability insurance. If it lands on your own car, then it's possible, but unlikely, that a home insurance policy will offer some form of cover.

As it's not part of the building itself, it won't be covered by that section of the policy. Instead it might be found under the "contents" section; but generally this section will exclude cover for motorised vehicles.

However, if you have comprehensive car insurance, it will probably cover you for this event.

Are fallen trees covered by insurance?

Sometimes; it depends on where and how it fell. A policy that will most likely pay out for the removal of fallen trees is one that contains a “removal of debris” clause.

Depending on the policy, this might only be available as an optional extra, and might only cover the cost of removal of debris that actually damaged your home. It typically doesn’t cover the costs of digging up and removing tree stumps that remain after a tree falls, or any related landscaping costs.

What if I’m pruning and something gets damaged?

Your home insurance generally won’t cover any damage caused by branches or trees that fell and caused damage as a result of trimming.

If you were doing the trimming yourself, then you’d probably be fully responsible for any damage that was caused.

If you hired a professional to do the job, they may be liable for the damage. You might be able to make a claim through their business insurance or other liability cover.

If my neighbour's tree falls on my property who is responsible?

If your neighbour has altered the tree in any way – such as removed its roots to repair a driveway – then it's likely that they are liable to cover the repair costs. Similarly, if there is evidence to suggest that they knew the tree was dangerous – for example, an arborist recommended its removal – then they are also liable.

However, it's often the case in Australia that bad weather and storms results in fallen trees. It's generally the case that this comes under an 'act of nature' for which there is no liability. This means that, should a storm bring down your neighbour's tree on to your home, you may have to cover the costs. That's why making sure your home insurance has cover for tree damage is important, even if you don't have trees on your property.

What happens if my tree roots are causing damage to my neighbour's property?

When dealing with issues with your neighbours, you should always do your best to keep things friendly and resolve things amicably. Ordinarily, damage as a result of tree roots either to you or your neighbour's home is not something that home insurance covers. If this is the case, it may be worth coming to a solution with your neighbour about removing the tree.

However, in some cases, if the tree roots are causing serious harm to your neighbour's home, you may be liable to pay. This can include things like structural damage to the property, such as crushed pipes, damaged roofs and walls or cracked foundations.

If you do have a large tree on your property, you may want to look into getting cover for damage to your home or other's property. Many policies will specifically exclude damage caused by roots so finding cover can be difficult.

What happens if your neighbour's tree roots are causing damage to your property?

If your neighbour's tree roots are damaging your property, it can be difficult to get cover. That's because it's common for insurers not to cover the cost of removing tree stumps and roots still in the ground. However, there are some things you can do:

  • Speak to your neighbour: If the tree roots are doing damage to your property, speak to your neighbour and try to come to an amicable agreement. You might be able to go through their insurance or split the costs 50/50.
  • Serious damage: If you can prove that their tree roots are causing serious damage to your home, they may be liable to pay. This can include things like structural damage to the property, such as crushed pipes, damaged roofs and walls or cracked foundations.
  • Go through your insurer: You may have to go through your insurer if your neighbour is refusing to pay. If this is the case, you'll need to make sure you are covered. While many insurers do not cover you for the roots of trees, you can find cover, for example, if your pipes or drains are destroyed or blocked by roots under the insured event commonly known as 'Escape of liquid'.

Am I insured for tree lopping?

If you were doing the lopping yourself, then you'd probably be fully responsible for any damage that was caused to your property.

Your home insurance generally won't cover any damage caused by branches or trees that fell and caused damage as a result of trimming, pruning or tree lopping.

If you hired a professional to do the job, they may be liable for the damage. You might be able to make a claim through their business insurance or other liability cover.

Not happy with your current insurer? It might be time to switch

Updated January 26th, 2020
Name Product Fire, storm, & theft damage Building Modifications Accidental Damage to Home or Belongings Full Building Replacement Underinsurance protection
Budget Direct Building Insurance
$5,000
Optional
Coles Home Insurance
$5,000
Youi Building Insurance
$0
Optional
Virgin Home Only
$5,000
Optional
Westpac Building Insurance
$10,000
St. George Building Insurance
$10,000
Real Top Home Building Insurance
$0

Compare up to 4 providers

Read more:

Related Posts

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.
Ask a question
Go to site