Tree liability insurance

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  • Tree liability insurance
  • bensongd
    Member

    Hi all,
    After a bit of input and/or experience. Looking at buying a house with a large mature tree in the front next to the pavement. Mortgage people have asked for an arboriculturist report. I’m not sure of the tree type. I understand that there could be implications for the property with roots, heavage etc..

    But what are my liabilities in terms of branches falling onto cars or people? Do you have to get additional insurance?

    Thanks

    Rich_s
    Member

    The folks who live behind us have an 80ft+ (I reckon) eucalyptus in their back garden. Apparently they had it trimmed 7 years ago and it cost them a couple of grand alone.
    So it may be worth getting a tree surgeon round before you buy to see what they think.

    Insurance-wise, your household policy should include cover for your legal liabilities arising from you being a homeowner and occupier. That would include liability arising from negligently failing to manage the tree, meaning that it fell on a bus queue of nuns and orphans, etc.

    If the tree is healthy and sound and “just falls down” in a storm etc and you’ve done nothing wrong, then there is nothing for anyone to sue for.

    Your lender is probably more worried about the roots causing subsidence, so the type of tree and the distance away from your house become very important.

    lunar
    Member

    Hey – I work in the arboricultural industry and mainly undertake tree safety inspections/risk assessments. The best advice I can give is to get the tree regularly inspected by a competent/adequately trained professional. A good place to start finding a suitable person is looking on the arb association website or the quantified tree risk assessment members directory.

    If an incident ever occurred, like a branch falling and hitting someone, in order to claim the person injured/killed would be required to prove you were liable. It’s essential that your are able to demonstrate that you have taken adequate measures to reduce any risk, the best way to do this is by getting the tree inspected regularly and acting on any recommendations in the report. There is a significant amount of case law to support this way of managing your liability. The majority of claim cases fail due to the owner being able to demonstrate that the accident could not be foreseen and they had made an attempt to monitor and manage tree health. The claim cases that are successful are generally won when the owner cannot demonstrate that they have made any past effort to monitor the condition of the tree.

    With a little knowledge you don’t need to employ an expert, though I would suggest that you do initially to get a base line assessment, but you should ensure you inspect tree regularly and keep a record of these inspections. Before you ask; for a healthy tree the industry generally recommends an annual inspection or after a severe weather incident. Hope that helps.

    bensongd
    Member

    Thanks for the replies, all very helpful. Engineer attempted to visit the house yesterday but estate agent didn’t turn up or leave the gate unlocked as promised. Hopefully revisiting next week, failing that it’s a 6 week wait.

    So still none the wiser on what damage/risk it may pose.

    bensongd
    Member

    Have had the report back, tree is a 17m mature lime. Despite difference in levels it’s anticipated that the roots will have gone under the house and have been for decades without issue. Soil is low in clay but a 1 to 2m crown reduction is advised.

    Potential fly in the ointment is an ‘element of included bark’ at a 3m high bifurcation along with crack developing below the union. Further investigation needed.

    Waiting for a call on the costs of a second inspection. Also found out the tree has a tpo attached.

    Premier Icon thepurist
    Subscriber

    I believe that the local authority has a duty of care to users of highways/footways and so should take any management action that’s needed, but the tree is on your land so you also have a responsibility.  If you’re concerned then take a look at the tree at regular intervals (at least once in summer to see if the leaves are suffering in any areas, once in winter so you can see the branches) to spot anything that looks diseased, dead or damaged.  Keep records of those inspections, call in an arb if there is anything that concerns you, then if anything does happen you can say that there were no defects that were clearly obvious before whatever happened.  AIUI you don’t need to get an expert in to do the periodic inspections, just if you notice anything that looks amiss – the law is buried with the usual stuff about “reasonable” care and “prudent” land owners.

    https://www.forestry.gov.uk/safetreemanagement

    bensongd
    Member

    Hi thepurist would the duty of care mean the council would do the work then bill the homeowner?

    Premier Icon mechanicaldope
    Subscriber

    I would never buy a house near a lime tree for the following reason only: Your car will get covered in sap if parked anywhere near it. Unless you keep up a really regular cleaning regime your car will end up sticky and filthy.

    This may not bother you but did my head in when I rented a place once.

    Vader
    Member

    I can confirm the sap is a sticky problem, our old house was about 35m from one – on the drive we were ok but much nearer and it covered everything

    I hated the HUGE lime tree at my parents house with a passion.  The sap would make a horrible mess of the car.

    nick1962
    Member

    A house near us on a hillside asked for permission to take down a tree on their land but the council had/put a TPO on it and refused.After heavy rain the tree collapsed pulled down half the hillside blocked the canal for months and almost pulled the house and driveway down.The cost of the remedial work ran into the mid 6 figures.They had to build a temporary access road for tipper trucks to cart away the tons of earth,needed huge plant machinery including a canal boat dredger/digger to move the earth to the trucks,huge concrete blocks and steel piles to firm up the canal side, then secure the hillside with concrete and steel netting. AFAIK domestic insurance covered it but the insurance company were suing the council to recoup some of the costs.I know that doesn’t help but I just needed to get that worse case scenario story off my chest 🙂

    Interesting topic. We have a massive lime. It has a TPO and a ganoderma infection. We had an arb report which recommended felling it, so we said we would but the TPO folks said no. It is a lovely tree, so long as it stays upright. Tree sap hasn’t been a problem for us but we park 10m away, which is normally upwind. We bought knowing about the tree and the TPO but not about the ganoderma. I’d still buy though. The upside is we have a much bigger garden thanks to the TPO on the lime, an oak, and two sequoias.

    fossy
    Member

    My neighbour got some monkeys to trim the tree on his property. Well lets say they did a bad job, introduced disease and the thing fell down a couple of years later. Fortunately it fell in the only direction that wouldn’t have smashed houses or cars, but it did obliterate about 4 houses garden fences. The tree was a massive double trunk affair. Fortunately the council came out, took a look and removed the other half immediately (on Christmas day). Neighbour then had to get someone round to remove what was left.

    bensongd
    Member

    Would it be unreasonable to expect the vendor to pay for/lower the agreed offer to cover any remedial work the tree needs?

    Hadn’t considered the sap issue. Where did the car wax thread go?

    Sui
    Member

    ahh trees and TPO’s, the council love nothing more than to ignore sound advise by qualified professionals, or even still argue that they are completely wrong. However, bung the tree officer enough money from a well funded private school and do as you like!

    sorry minor rant..

    back more on topic though, Sap on cars is a b’rd, though in my case it’s honeydew that’s the issue during summer – tons of the stuff, makes the car stink and attracts wasps.

    On the liability front (sorry rant again coming) this will depend on the council and how decent they actually are. One of my neighbours has a tree that is clearly gong to cause an issue soon (all the bark has fallen from one particular large branch this winter), yet the council have refused to let the owner do anything about it, but when challenged if there was ever an issue, they said he would be liable. It then got worse, because another tree he wanted to trim, because of it surrounding a BT telephone mast, was told that he couldn’t go near it and the BT chaps would have to, and they said no as well! – i wonder if they will still feel like that when the cables eventually snap… odd.

    bensongd
    Member

    Spoken to the mortgage advisor who has been liaising with the surveyors. Their recommendation is to fell the tree and that’s what the bank are pushing for. Given the tpo and the vendor’s total lack of interest in a resolution I’ve had to pull out of the sale. So far have only lost the cost of the initial survey.

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