Who should take responsibility if a tree falls on my property or vehicle?
Posted on: November 30th, 2015
When gusts start reaching in excess of 40mph, even though it’s unlikely that any trees will topple over, but branches may fall and old, diseased trees could potentially pose a threat.
So what if a tree was to topple into your property? Alternatively, what if it was to fall into your neighbour’s property? Who would take responsibility? Would you be able to make a claim and if so, who to?
Any damage to your home or garden caused by a tree is generally covered by your buildings insurance. If a tree was to fall from your property, a neighbouring property or from the road, your insurance company will probably recover any costs from whoever ‘owned’ the tree.
However, it is worth remembering that it is highly unlikely that you will recover the costs of removing any debris. The insurer is likely to cut away and remove whatever is required in order to then commence any repairs. This will also apply if a neighbour’s tree has damaged your property. Under your buildings insurance, your insurer will pay for the damage to be repaired. But don’t assume that they will also pay for the removal of any debris, other than whatever has to be disposed of in order for that repair work to start.
Why? Because insurers argue that the tree belongs to you (or your neighbour) and as such, it is your responsibility to dispose of.
What if a tree falls onto my vehicle?
Trees falling onto cars in high winds are not an uncommon sight. If a tree was to topple onto your vehicle, you should be able to make a claim on your car insurance.
However, if you only have third party or third party fire and theft cover, you will not be covered for any damage incurred by a fallen tree.
What if the tree was damaged or diseased before it fell?
This could cause a problem as most insurance companies will refuse to pay out if the property owner cannot prove that the tree was in a good condition before they toppled over.
Sadly, a lot of people either don’t realise or ignore the fact that they have a legal responsibility to ensure that all trees within their property boundaries are safe and healthy, and will not fall on passers-by or damage other people’s property. If you are aware that your tree poses a potential threat, you are legally obliged to take reasonable steps to either make it safe or remove it from your property.
If a tree that has fallen is deemed to be diseased, rotten or dead, your insurance company will refuse your claim. This means that you will have to either pay for the damage yourself if it is your property, or settle a claim with a neighbour out of your own pocket.
When you take into account the fact that it can cost several thousand pounds to remove a large tree, let alone the cost of any damage it may have done to buildings, sheds, fences or vehicles, it’s hardly surprising that this sort of oversight can quickly become a huge financial burden and incredibly stressful for all involved.
What if it’s a neighbour’s tree that was diseased and fell into our property?
Thankfully, this scenario is rare. If a healthy tree blows over, your neighbours are not liable for the damage. It should be covered as part of your own buildings insurance.
However, if it was rotten, diseased or dead and you can prove that they failed to do anything to rectify the problem, you could claim that they were negligent and therefore liable for the cost of repairs. The same is true if they had been digging around it and left it in an unstable condition.
We hope you found this article on ‘Who should take responsibility if a tree falls on my property or vehicle’ useful, if you would like to discuss any aspect of this article then please do not hesitate to call Prince Tree Surgery on 01277 229709