Do trees affect my home insurance?
Looking out your window to a beautiful garden filled with foliage and greenery is a wonderful thing. But did you know that your insurer will be keen to know about any trees you have surrounding your home when you apply for a policy?
Do trees affect my home insurance?
Yes. Having trees in your garden, front or back, can affect your home insurance, but it doesn’t always influence the cost of your premium. However, your insurer should make it clear what is and isn’t covered.
You’ll be required to disclose information about the trees situated on your property when applying for home insurance, including how far away from your home they’re located. Trees that are closer to the walls of your house pose a bigger threat.
Size will also be considered. If you have any tall trees (typically over 10 metres) near your house, it may be reflected in your premium because they pose a higher risk, so you’re more likely to need to make a claim.
- Having a tree over 10 metres located close to your home could increase your premium
- In most cases, you’ll need to claim on your own home insurance if a neighbour’s tree falls and damages your house
- If a tree in your garden is subject to a Tree Preservation Order, you’re not allowed to cut it down
- Some insurance policies will only cover the cost of damage to your home caused by a tree and not removal of the tree itself
Why would a tree be a risk to my house?
There are a few different ways that trees can damage your home:
Branches may fall and damage your roof or windows, as well as external structures like your shed, garage or fence.
It’s not just branches that can cause havoc; if a tree is damaged or old, the whole thing could topple over and hit your house.
This is when the foundations under your home start to sink. Trees located near houses are a common cause of subsidence as they can drain moisture from the surrounding soil causing it to dry out and shrink. If it’s a particularly bad case of subsidence, your home may require underpinning, which can be very expensive.
Heave is when soil expands due to excess moisture causing home foundations to move upwards and crack, making them unstable. Removing nearby trees can cause this to happen as they absorb water through their roots, drying out the soil. There are steps you can take to prevent heave if you’re still set on removing a tree, like replacing it with plants or pruning it significantly before felling it. You should always take advice from a professional if you’re unsure.
Will I be refused insurance if I have a large tree near my house?
No, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be refused a policy because of a large tree near your home.
However, you may find that your premium is more expensive depending on the policy. Read the terms and conditions carefully and if you’re still unsure, contact the insurer directly.
In rare cases, your insurer may ask you to remove a tree from your property if they believe that it’s dangerous and highly likely to cause damage.
Removing a tree
If a tree is causing issues, you may want to consider removing it. But before you pick up a saw, it’s important to find out whether there’s a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) in place, preventing you from cutting it down.
This should be included in the survey from when you purchased the property (depending on how long ago you bought it), or you can contact your local authority who should be able to let you know whether there’s a TPO in your garden.
Getting insurance after heave, subsidence and tree root damage
It can be a little trickier to get home insurance if your property has suffered from heave or subsidence in the past. You may need to find a specialist insurer, but it’s still important to shop around and compare policies to get the best deal possible for your circumstances.
Trees on neighbouring property
In the unfortunate event of a neighbour’s tree falling onto your property and causing damage, you’ll usually be required to claim through your own home insurance.
It may be possible to claim on your neighbour’s policy, but you’ll be required to provide thorough evidence that the tree wasn’t properly maintained.
Legal rights when removing trees
If the tree is fully on land that you own and isn’t subject to a TPO or in a conservation area, then you’re free to remove it.
Trees located in the garden of a property you’re renting must not be touched without the landlord’s permission.
You’re completely responsible for any damage caused to other people’s property by cutting down your trees, for instance if it falls onto a neighbour’s fence. So, unless you’re experienced, consider using a professional tree surgeon.
Remember that it’s illegal to cut down a tree that’s home to breeding birds.
Will insurance cover tree removal?
It will depend on the policy and the level of cover you have. Some will only pay for the damage a fallen tree or branch causes to your property, but you’ll need to pay for the tree removal yourself. If in doubt, consult the terms and conditions.
What to do if a tree falls on your home
It’s important to immediately leave your home if a tree falls on it, as it can make the structure of your property unsafe. You should then contact the fire brigade.
You can then speak to your insurer to arrange alternative accommodation for you to stay in until your home is liveable again.
Can I plant trees near my home?
Yes, you shouldn’t be discouraged from having trees in your garden, but it’s wise to take some precautions first. For instance:
- Research how tall the tree is likely to grow and make sure it’s planted at least this distance away from any buildings
- Avoid tree types with large root systems, like willow and oak trees
- Keep your trees pruned and well-maintained
- Plant them away from your drainage system, so they don’t damage your pipes and cause leaks