Fence damage due to stormy weather is a common trigger for claims under a strata insurance policy. In the instance of a neighbouring tree falling onto your property and causing damage, most of us would assume the owner of the fallen tree would be responsible for the damage – but this is not always the case.  

Normally when the shared or boundary fence between two houses is damaged by a fallen tree, the branches cause secondary damage to structures on one or both properties, such as sheds or clotheslines.

 

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?

Often it is not reasonable for the owner of the fallen tree to anticipate such an event occurring. As the insured, if your claim for damage is accepted by your insurer, the policy will provide compensation for your side of the boundary fence that was damaged by the tree. This would include the cost of cutting and removing branches, repairing the fence, etc. The other half of the total cost would be covered by the neighbour. Any remaining damage to your property is your responsibility and your insurer will apply an excess for the claim.

In some circumstances, the owner of the fallen tree could be held liable. For this to happen, evidence must be provided to show the owner was aware the tree could cause damage or if there was a requirement for it to be maintained.

If the neighbouring property is council-owned (e.g., a park, public school, or Department of Housing), then the insured would be responsible for covering the total repair bill.

 

HOW CAN PROPERTY OWNERS LIMIT RISK & DAMAGE?

While it is often not possible to prevent damage from fallen trees, there are some actions you can take to reduce the risk or limit further loss. These include:

      • Complying with any council notice mandating tree removal.
      • Ensuring damaged trees are adequately maintained or removed before storms. Mobile weather applications are available to help you monitor this.
      • Reporting in a timely manner any fallen tree branches within the vicinity of the property to the local council and organising tree removal service.
      • Notifying residents in the vicinity of the fallen trees to help limit injury.

 

Prepared by Perry Xie

Megan Peacock

Team Leader – Risksmart Property • Risksmart

megan.peacock@risksmartclaims.com.au 

 

 

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