Trees are a common cause of conflict with neighbours! Tree owners are legally responsible for any damage that their tree branches, roots, etc. cause to the property of others.
Did the tree fall because of an act of God (also known as Force Majeure), or was it destined to fall for some other reason? In any case, who’s liable for the damage?
Before getting answers, you must first notify your insurer of the incident. A claims adjuster will analyze the file to determine whether or not you are responsible for the damage caused by the fallen tree.
Situation 1 ─ Your tree has fallen because of an act of God
An act of God is an unforeseeable event that is outside human control. An act of God is often associated with a force of nature such as unusually strong winds, torrential rain, ice storms, etc.
If an act of God was what caused your tree to fall, you are probably not responsible. Generally, your neighbour’s insurance will provide compensation for the damage caused.
If the matter proceeds to court, the judge will determine whether the tree fell as a result of an act of God and therefore whether or not you are responsible.
Situation 2 ─ Your tree has fallen because it was diseased
Citizens are required by law to act prudently, be good neighbours and demonstrate good faith. This means that you, as the tree owner, must do what’s necessary to treat or strengthen a tree that shows signs of disease or have it cut down.
If the adjuster concludes that the tree fell because it was diseased, he or she will determine whether the civil liability insurance coverage included with your home insurance covers the damage. You may also have to pay a deductible.
In the event of a trial, the court will analyze the evidence to determine what caused the accident and who has to pay for the damage. If you think that an act of God was what caused your tree to fall, you will have to prove that the unforeseeable force of nature would have caused even a healthy tree to fall.
Legal Access insurance: a small investment with a big return
A fallen tree on a neighbour’s shed is an example of an event that is covered by both your home insurance and your Legal Access insurance.
1. Your home insurance can provide compensation to your neighbour for the damage caused to his or her property, if it is demonstrated that you are responsible for the fallen tree.
2. Your Legal Access insurance grants you the financial means to get a lawyer’s help or to settle a matter by, for example, answering a demand letter sent by your neighbour.