Help! My tree fell on my neighbour’s house, will my insurance policy pay out?

Help! My tree fell on my neighbour’s house, will my insurance policy pay out?

Jaco Erasmus – Director of Cornerstone Insurance Brokers

Spring and gardening go hand in hand and for many, September means bringing out that infamous home owner’s to do list that you’ve been meaning to get to since last year. Removing weeds, replacing seedlings, refreshing flowers and taming overgrown trees might resemble some of the items on your list, but what happens when Spring gardening goes wrong?

Unfortunately, some items in your garden can cause damages to your and your neighbour’s property. Perhaps a tree fell over and landed on your neighbour’s house, or your sprinkler system burst resulting in water damage to the dividing walls. If this happens, who pays for what? Will your insurance policy cover the damages and what loopholes do you need to look out for?

At Cornerstone Insurance Brokers, we continuously strive to ensure that all your questions, like the ones above, are answered so that you have the knowledge as well as the necessary short-term insurance cover in place to give you peace of mind.

How to avoid claim rejections, regardless of who sustained damage

In most cases, your home insurance will cover damages to your home that was caused by an item of a plant in your garden. However, as with all insurance policies, if there was neglect, poor maintenance or intentional damages caused, your claim might be rejected.

Therefore, always make sure that everything in your garden in well-maintained and always be in the lookout for items that can potentially cause any damages to your or your neighbour’s property. These could include irrigation systems and water pipes, overgrown or rotted trees and shrubs, plants interfering with electric fencing or roots damaging the structure of buildings.

Also, if you can see any items in your neighbour’s yard that have the potential to cause problems, it’s advisable to kindly alert them to this. It could save both of you a lot of trouble.

Will my insurance cover damages to my neighbour’s house if they were caused by plants or items in my garden?

In a way, yes. However, it’s slightly more complicated than a simple yes or no. If items in your garden cause damage to a neighbour’s property, standard procedure will be very similar to a third party claim during a vehicle collision.

If for example, a tree in your garden fell on a neighbour’s house, you can claim any damages to your property caused by the accident from your insurer, your neighbour will have to claim from their insurer and their insurer will then recover those cost from your insurer.

Alternatively, your neighbour will be able to write an affidavit stating that they have not claimed form their insurer and after confirmation they will be able to claim directly form your insurer. Many people opt to do this to avoid any future premium increases. So, in a way, your insurance policy can cover the damage to your neighbour’s house, the claims process is just a bit lengthier and not as direct.

Damages to property caused by garden-related items is not as bad as it sounds and mostly, your short-term insurance policy will come to your rescue. However, the to and fro claims process can be even more tedious than it sounds, and, in some cases, it can even evolve into an ugly fight between neighbours. Having a qualified and experienced short-term insurance broker at your side will greatly ease and shorten process and help to keep the peace. Click here to get in touch with us today.

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  • Astri Macbeth
    Your article is helpful. However what is the outcome if: - a) a neighbour has very large alien, invasive and prohibited trees which have not been "lopped" regularly. b) In addition they have rotting trunks with bark peeling off in places c) The neighbour has been made aware that these trees can fall on other neighbours' properties in a storm or when the trunk rots though and becomes dry and brittle. d) He does nothing to rectify this e) He does not inform his insurer f) The insurer finds out after a tree/large branch falls and causes damage to neighbours' properties and those neighbours' insurers want to claim from the insurer of the person on whose property the trees were grown. I feel sure that an article explaining the insured's obligations towards his insurer would be much appreciated by many. Thank you for posting such helpful articles.
    • cornerstone
      Hi Astri, thank you for your comment and suggestion - we are always looking for new ways to inform, educate and empower our readers. We would love to learn more about your predicament and see if we can assist. We will be in touch via email shortly. Kind regards, The Cornerstone Team

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