Do trees affect my home insurance?
Trees are a great addition to a garden, providing shelter, privacy and lush aesthetics. But even though trees may look harmless, they could be causing serious damage to your home without you knowing. Despite it seeming pretty obvious, the placement of a tree in your garden can be important, so don’t be surprised if you’re asked by your home insurer what trees surround your home and where are they located.
In this guide:
- Will I be refused insurance if I have a large tree near my house?
- Why could a tree be a risk to my house?
- Removing a tree
- My neighbour's tree has fallen on to my home
- Can I plant trees near my home?
It’s unlikely you will be refused insurance if you have a large tree near your home. It is however common for insurers to ask you about the trees surrounding your garden. And if you have a very tall tree close to your home, that can be deemed a risk to your house and some insurers may increase your premiums (the price you pay for your home insurance).
Branches could, of course, break off a tall tree near your home and damage your roof, or break windows. This damage will be covered in your standard home insurance, and you may even have cover to remove the fallen branch (say for example off the roof of your house). However, it is unlikely your insurer will cover the costs to have the tree removed completely. It’s also worth noting you will not be covered if the branch fell during maintenance work, for example if a tree surgeon was pruning the tree.
Tree roots near your home could potentially cause serious problems. When they absorb water from the soil they can dry the area faster potentially causing subsidence. Subsidence is when the soil (particularly clay soil) under a house contracts when it’s too dry and makes the building foundations sink.
Although subsidence cover is standard in a housing insurance policy, it’s still expensive. You will likely have to pay an excess of at least £1000, and you will only be covered for the damage subsidence does to your house.
Although you may now be reading this guide with your chainsaw at the ready to remove a perfectly good tree in your garden, it’s important to get expert advice from a surveyor or abortist. Sometimes removing a tree from the ground can cause more harm than good, leading to what is commonly known as as heave. This is when soil is dependent on the trees roots to remove moisture, when the tree is removed the soil expands, destabilising the building’s foundations.
If you’re advised to have a tree removed, you'll need to find out if you legally have the right to remove it. Many trees are protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). However, when purchasing a new home, a surveyor will tell you if there is a tree on your property that’s protected by a TPO. If you can remove the tree you will need to get in contact with your local council to receive permission to cut the tree down.
The important thing to note is, you will not be advised to remove a tree unless your insurer has deemed the tree is likely to cause damage. But if you refuse to have the tree removed, and the tree does cause damage to your home you may no longer be covered.
If your neighbour’s tree falls on your house, you will not be able to claim on their home insurance policy (unless you can prove the tree fell because of negligence ie the tree was known to be damaged). This means you will have to claim on your own home insurance and pay the excess, but all is not lost as you can take your neighbours to a small claims court to get them to repay the excess.
Trees are of course a great way to make a more attractive garden or provide more privacy to your home. And it’s unlikely a tree will cause you many issues. However, you should consider the following advice:
- Don’t plant trees too close to your home (at least the height of the tree grown to its mature height).
- Don’t plant trees near drains or lightweight structures; also consider your neighbour's house.
- Maintain your plants and have large trees surveyed every few years.
- Lastly, avoid planting climbers such as ivy against your house.