Trees and roots can be hazardous to your home, but home insurance can protect you from any damage.
It’s not something we always consider, but as beautiful as trees are, they can pose problems for home owners. A growing network of roots can undermine your property, while branches and even whole trees could fall on your house.
Home insurance can cover many types of tree damage, both to your property and your neighbours’, but some conditions apply.
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.
- 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.
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.