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House Building Insurance - Trees covered???

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House Building Insurance - Trees covered???

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A feature of my property is that it has some  mature large trees in the garden. Varying heights and distances from the building. I declared these as best I could last time I renewed the buildings insurance policy with Property Expert. In the belief that  having made the declaration [and the declaration having been accepted and the corresponding premium charged] I would be covered in the event of damage in connection with said trees. Not so apparently.  Only under quite a bit of cross examination from myself were they willing to reveal that cover would only apply in the event of a tree coming down and damaging the building in a "storm" - a storm being defined as minimum force 10, which is going places. If it's merely a force 9 "gale", tough luck. It makes obvious sense to enquire if all insurers take such a tough line on "tree risks".  Does anyone have any ideas?
Telegraph Sam
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  • ThrugelmirThrugelmir Forumite
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    Tree roots cause all sorts of issues. 
    “Buy value, not market trends or the economic outlook. Individual stocks determine the market, not vica versa." - Sir John Templeton
  • Telegraph_SamTelegraph_Sam Forumite
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    .. including subsidence which is a separate issue. My point was myself being made to believe that I was covered against damage caused by "wind" when in fact this applies only in extreme circumstances - when was the last time we had an inland Force 10? And whether this attitude  was unique or commonplace with insurers.
    Telegraph Sam
  • edited 8 August at 4:41PM
    naedangernaedanger Forumite
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    edited 8 August at 4:41PM
    A feature of my property is that it has some  mature large trees in the garden. Varying heights and distances from the building. I declared these as best I could last time I renewed the buildings insurance policy with Property Expert. In the belief that  having made the declaration [and the declaration having been accepted and the corresponding premium charged] I would be covered in the event of damage in connection with said trees. Not so apparently.  Only under quite a bit of cross examination from myself were they willing to reveal that cover would only apply in the event of a tree coming down and damaging the building in a "storm" - a storm being defined as minimum force 10, which is going places. If it's merely a force 9 "gale", tough luck. It makes obvious sense to enquire if all insurers take such a tough line on "tree risks".  Does anyone have any ideas?
    The following may be worth reading if you haven't seen it already:
    https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/businesses/complaints-deal/insurance/home-buildings-insurance/storm-damage
    and
    https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/flooding/storms/
    If force 10 is not mentioned in the policy documents that are issued to customers then I think it will not be given a lot of weight if the insurer declined a claim for that reason alone, and you took a complaint to FOS. However the damage would need to have been caused by a storm.

    I would be at least as concerned about tree maintenance since that is a factor you can control unlike a storm itself.
  • Telegraph_SamTelegraph_Sam Forumite
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    I can see this being a topic for the lawyers.  If "storm" = Force 10 then the tree damage cover is virtually worthless - though many insurers will  I suspect be unwilling to volunteer pointing out this escape clause unless pressed (hard).  I was given to understand that this definition was "industry practice" but now I don't believe it. Esure gave me a categoric yes today (cover would be included @ less than 10) whilst Sheila Wheels, part of the same group, said no (no cover). I have yet to check with the NFU but on previous experience I would be very surprised if they were not willing to include cover without tying the policyholder in knots over how strong the gusts have to be in order to validate a claim. I don't ever recall seeing anything in any policy documents (which decide on a claim) about tree maintenance but common sense would prompt one to keep nearby trees under review.
    Telegraph Sam
  • edited 8 August at 10:51PM
    naedangernaedanger Forumite
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    edited 8 August at 10:51PM
    Edited to remove information that may have been wrong.
  • edited 8 August at 6:03PM
    ThrugelmirThrugelmir Forumite
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    edited 8 August at 6:03PM
    .. including subsidence which is a separate issue. My point was myself being made to believe that I was covered against damage caused by "wind" when in fact this applies only in extreme circumstances - when was the last time we had an inland Force 10? And whether this attitude  was unique or commonplace with insurers.
    As the insured you would need to take all reasonable precautions to protect your property. This would naturally include tree maintenance. 
    “Buy value, not market trends or the economic outlook. Individual stocks determine the market, not vica versa." - Sir John Templeton
  • Telegraph_SamTelegraph_Sam Forumite
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    Which is why I had a visit from a tree surgeon yesterday.  My point is rather that even given reasonable maintenance there are a large or small number (I don't know) of insurers who will reject such claims simply because UK was not experiencing a Gulf of Mexico type "storm" on the day that the damage occurred.
    Telegraph Sam
  • edited 8 August at 7:18PM
    naedangernaedanger Forumite
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    edited 8 August at 7:18PM
    Which is why I had a visit from a tree surgeon yesterday.  My point is rather that even given reasonable maintenance there are a large or small number (I don't know) of insurers who will reject such claims simply because UK was not experiencing a Gulf of Mexico type "storm" on the day that the damage occurred.
    But if an insurer rejected a claim for the reason you have given then you could complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service. And if the insurer was relying on a particulary strict definition in order to exclude claims then they had better have highlighted that in the policy documentation, otherwide FOS are likely to use more generally accepted criteria e.g. how was weather reported at the time etc - see the link above for details. 
  • MalMonroeMalMonroe Forumite
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    I don't see how any insurer who fails to specify exactly what is meant by the term 'storm' can refuse to pay out on a claim made for damage caused by any storm. Surely they have to specify exactly what that means? 

    And if you keep your trees in good condition and have them regularly inspected and treated by a tree surgeon (which it appears that you do), it doesn't seem possible that any insurance company could refuse to pay out for any such claim made.

    Seems to me that someone at that insurance company is just making things up to shut you up/make you go away.


  • AretnapAretnap Forumite
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    .. including subsidence which is a separate issue. My point was myself being made to believe that I was covered against damage caused by "wind" when in fact this applies only in extreme circumstances - when was the last time we had an inland Force 10? And whether this attitude  was unique or commonplace with insurers.
    As the insured you would need to take all reasonable precautions to protect your property. This would naturally include tree maintenance. 
    Not particularly. The policy will specify  precautions which the insured has to take, such as ensuring that the house is locked when unoccupied. I don't think I've ever a policy that required trees to be maintained to any particular standard or schedule.

    It's true that most polices will also have a clause along the lines of "you must take reasonable care of the property", however the courts and the Ombudsman quite rightly don't like insurers using such vague clauses to deny claims, so the level of neglect that is required to activate them is very high. It's more along the lines of the insured's behaviour being wholly unreasonable (eg leaving a tree which was obviously in a dangerous condition, even to the untrained eye) rather that a failure to take all reasonable precautions (like getting a tree surgeon round to any particular schedule). 
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