Wind and Trees, A Recipe for Disaster

Wind and Trees, A Recipe for Disaster - by Robert Cooper

For our clients who lose their roofs following storms or high winds that are insured, have quite clear cut claims for insurance to pay for its replacement. But it becomes more complicated when you add in fallen down trees into the mix.

Generally most Householders or Commercial Fire and Perils policies will cover the removal of trees where they’ve caused damage to your home or building, but what about the $1,000s of plants that have been destroyed? The damaged caused to you landscaping? What about the shed you built out the back?  

 ... lots of ifs, buts & maybes ...

When we compare policy wordings, most of them will cover loss or damage caused by a falling tree or branch.  However, then you will find lots of ifs, buts & maybes included.

With your Householders policy, first check the “definitions” section to see what’s actually classified as Building & Contents. You will most likely find that plants, trees and shrubs are not considered part of your Building or your Contents. So damage to them is not covered.

External shade sails, blinds and awnings should be classified as part of the Building, but only if a tree damaged them, not if they were torn off and ripped to shreds by the wind.

Fences and gates are often excluded if they fall over during a storm, but if a tree falls on it, then it is likely to be covered.

 ... some clever insurance companies exclude Impact to contents outside ...

Outdoor furniture comes under Contents in the Open Air. Usually you’ll have a small sublimit which covers your barbeque, table and chairs.  Watch out because some clever insurance companies exclude Impact to contents outside. This means that if they get blown over the fence by the wind they’re covered, but if they get demolished by a tree branch you are not covered.

If you did not get a council permit for that shed you built which now has a tree through it, then to most insurers, the ‘outbuilding’ doesn’t comply with local government or other statutory requirements, then it is not going to be a Building by definition.

And if the tree that has fallen over has not caused damage to your Building, it is unlikely they will pay to remove the tree.

CPR Insurance Services seeks only good quality broad covers for our clients, but you do pay more. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. For instance, most direct insurance companies will not do anything about the trees and branches lying in your backyard on top of grass or plants or landscaping. Most direct insurance companies will not do anything with your tree stump full stop.

 ... make sure you can claim for everything you are entitled to ...

We will always seek the best possible price but we want the policy coverage to be a step above the rest. For instance, have a policy that will treat the stump to prevent regrowth. Or pay for the removal of the stump. Some particular insurers will also pay you up to $5,000 to remove the trees and branches lying in your backyard on top of grass and plants and landscaping.

Then one of the most important reasons for using an insurance broker, is that they will assist you in the claims process, make sure you can claim for everything you are entitled to and negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement. Your Insurance Broker is your trusted adviser.

We appreciate it is up to you which way you go but remember that we buy insurance so we’re covered for those worst case scenarios. You may save dollars on your annual premium by shopping around, but that could mean thousands of dollars in things that are not covered. Which would you rather have? 

General Advice Warning: This advice is general and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the advice is appropriate for you and your personal circumstances. Before you make any decision about whether to acquire a certain product, you should obtain and read the relevant product disclosure statement.

Robert Cooper, CPR Insurance Services

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