Does Home Insurance Cover a Neighbour’s Tree Falling into My Garden?
Caeva O'Callaghan | August 31st, 2020
You’re woken up in the middle of the night by a terrific crash – and find a neighbour’s tree has wrought havoc on your garden after a storm. But will your home insurance cover it?
This is because your house insurance covers you for damage from natural causes such as falling trees. How it works is a little different if the tree was on your neighbour’s land, but the good news is you do have cover.
In this article, we’ll answer such questions as:
- Will my buildings insurance cover my garden?
- Does home insurance cover falling trees?
- If my neighbour’s tree falls on my property, will my insurance cover it?
In most cases, a falling tree is an insurable risk. This means that repairing your property after a tree or branch causes damage should fall under your home insurance policy.
First, calculate the damage
So a tree has fallen on your property, damaging your garden. But the tree was on your neighbour’s property. No doubt this will cause some ire between you, unless you’re on exceptionally good terms. But aside from personality issues, there are some things you need to sort out in these early stages.
As soon as you notice a tree or branch has fallen, start calculating the cost of the damages. It’s not always as easy to do this for a garden as for a home. For example, you can easily dig out an invoice and find out exactly how much you paid for a carpet, as well as the labour to install it. But how do you value a lawn, the seed or turf, and the time it takes to grow it?
Your best bet is to simply write down the approximate cost of restoration. How much would it cost to fix? Would you need to call in a professional landscaping service? How about to remove the branches and debris from your property? Would you need a skip? Do you need to replace your fence?
If the tree or branch has fallen on a shed or outbuilding, you need to factor in the cost of repairing or replacing the building as well as its contents. This may include anything from laptops and printers if you have a garden office, to power tools, hosepipes, patio furniture, seeds, bulbs and compost.
Your insurance vs your neighbour’s
When your neighbour’s tree falls on your property, you deal with your own home insurance. This is because the factors which likely led to the tree falling are insurable risks.
Trees can fall for any number of reasons, including:
- High winds
- Tree disease
- Subsidence and ground heave
- Poor maintenance (i.e. failing to trim branches)
All of these will fall under your home insurance. However, since it was your neighbour’s tree which fell and caused damage to your property, your provider will likely seek repayment from your neighbour’s insurance company. So, in essence, they will process your claim and then chase up your neighbour to seek reimbursement from their policy.
If it turns out the tree fell due to negligence or lack of proper upkeep, your neighbour will be liable. Unless they have substantial cover, they will need to pay for all damages out of pocket.
Acts of God
In exceptionally rare cases, a tree falling could be an “act of God”. This is an antiquated term the insurance industry uses to describe a natural hazard outside human control, such as a tsunami or earthquake, for which no person can be held responsible. An act of God may amount to an exception to liability in contracts, or it may be an “insured peril” in an insurance policy.
As legal parlance becomes more secular and we’re getting better at determining the cause of events, this term has fallen out of favour. Basically, insurance companies are getting better at finding out who’s fault it is.
If a tree falls on your property, 99.9% of the time it will either be somebody’s fault, or because of an insured risk such as a storm or fire.
But it all depends on the level of risk. In Ireland, standard homeowners policies cover damage due to wind, rain or hail. But they don’t generally cover damage thanks to earthquakes, volcanoes and – perhaps more controversially – floods.
Unfortunately, home insurance doesn’t cover damage caused by wild animals or pets. In Ireland, it’s not very likely a grizzly bear will snap a tree branch and drop it on your shed. However, it’s significantly more likely that burrowing animals may damage roots and cause disturbance to the ground – eventually leading to its falling over.
Again, significant damage from a falling tree or branch due to animals will be extremely rare, but it’s worth knowing where you stand with your insurance.
If you’re wondering how your neighbour’s property affects your home insurance, give us a call today.
If you have any questions regarding trees or anything else regarding your neighbours property and how it may impact on your insurance, feel free to pick up the phone and call and talk to our home insurance experts. We can help you understand what is covered when incidents occur on your neighbours property that impact yours. We are available by phone between 8.30am and 5.30pm each weekday on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051.
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