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Tree influencing distance information for property insurance

Most trees growing in closing proximity to a property cause no damage, but in some cases subsidence and structural damage can be linked to trees on the property and these can lead to potentially large property insurance claims. As a home owner, landlord or managing agent it is important to assess the potential risks and to give the right information to your insurance broker as it is deemed a material fact on an insurance policy.

There are some key (and predictable questions) asked by an underwriter / Insurer about trees on the property and their distance from the buildings and as a broker we look to pre-empt this with our clients.

Whilst most people might consider the effect a tree may have either falling onto their property or losing branches in heavy weather, the unseen issue is one of the tree roots affecting the foundations or drainage to the property and this is why we ask for the height and distance of a tree from a property.

Trees, by their very nature can be very large, very heavy and can take up a lot of water from the soil surrounding them. The following list of safe tree distances is a list referring to the possible potential damage from their roots to the foundations of your property which may cause subsidence or in certain circumstances heave as the roots draw moisture from the soil. Occasionally root structures can also penetrate through weak points or cracks in foundations and affect their structural integrity as well as invade drains causing blockages.

Another item which is also often overlooked is that of ivy growth. If left unchecked, ivy can add significant weight to the tree and can eventually even kill the tree with uncontrolled growth. You should always take professional advice if you are in any doubt as to whether a tree is structurally safe and also if it is likely to affect the structure of the property it stands near to if it is close to the distances listed in the table.

The following list was produced by the ABI (Association of British Insurers) but it is very important to note that this is only a rough guide as every single tree situation is different, there may be a number of other factors outside the scope of this piece which may abnormally effect whether a tree could affect a property.

Trees should therefore be maintained by regular inspection by a qualified professional where there is a risk to property or members of the public should a tree fall outside the boundaries of your property.

We will insist that you speak to a qualified arborist if you have any doubts as to whether a tree is ‘safe’ and how to deal with it if it isn’t. Whilst we can provide more information about trees and how they can affect a property via one of our advisors, please be aware that their advice is limited and no substitute for a professionally qualified person visiting the property.

The Arboricultural Association at www.trees.org.uk is able to provide you with details of local, qualified arborists who will be able to help you identify any potential problems or safety and maintenance issues you may have with a tree on your property or one you are hoping to purchase. We also have a number of clients in this field who are trusted local specialists and we can provide a few numbers for you to start your search with.

As you will see from the table below the “safe” distance can vary substantially dependant on the type of tree and it’s usual root structure, some (such as willow) will be very shallow, intrusive and spread quickly seeking water, others may be very deep and generally remain within a certain distance from the trees trunk causing less issue to foundations, this list also takes into account a trees appetite for water and how that changes through the year as changes in groundwater levels can also cause issues with certain soil types.

Species

Normal Mature Height (M)

Safe Distance from property (M)

Apple / Pear

12

10

Ash

23

21

Beech

20

15

Birch

14

10

Cypress

25

20

Cherry

17

11

Damson

12

11

Elm

25

30

Hawthorn

10

12

Holly

14

6

Horse Chestnut

20

23

Laburnum

12

9

Laurel

8

6

Magnolia

9

5

Maple

21

20

Oak

24

30

Pine

29

8

Plane

30

22

Plum

12

11

Poplar

28

35

Sycamore

24

17

Spruce

18

7

Walnut

18

14

White Beam / Rowan

12

11

Willow

24

40

Yew

12

5

 


Policyholders Duty of Care in respect of Material Facts


Many insurance providers might not request information upfront regarding tree type and proximity but rely on a policyholder’s duty of care to provide a fair representation of the risk to insurers. This is why as advisors we ask those questions and provide information to support our current and potential clients.

Please be aware that just because an insurer didn’t ask the question, it does not absolve the policy holder of responsibility. A number of insurers have conditions relating to trees within their policy wording or statement of fact and most will have clauses allowing them to avoid claims in respect of a failure to declare material facts.

If you are looking for a private or commercial property quotation or any further advice on this or property related matters, call Clarke Williams Ltd for a no obligation review.

Our specialist account handlers will get to the root of the problem and can also provide specialist insurance quotations for properties with trees in close proximity and those that previously been affected by root damage.

We only use A-Rated insurance companies, so you have peace of mind when insuring your property that claims will be handled promptly and properly and your insurer is committed to providing a quality service like our own as well as having the broadest and best covers available for you on your insurance policy.

To call one of our specialists or arrange an appointment to discuss your insurance arrangements, our number is :
01732 252 898 or email Info@Clarkewilliams.co.uk

 

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Clarke Williams Ltd are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under reference 758683. The Financial Conduct Authority’s Register can be accessed through http://www.fca.org.uk/ . We are registered in England and Wales with Companies House under number 10317065. Our registered office address is 194 High Street, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1BE

Clarke Williams Ltd
194 High Street
Tonbridge
TN9 1BE

Tel: 01732 252 898

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