Does home insurance cover tree root damage?

In Australia, the presence of trees on your property can be a pretty sight, especially with our beautiful native trees and the animals that call them home. However, a storm can cause branches to fall off trees, which can cause severe damage to your home.

A severe storm can even uproot a tree altogether, posing an even greater danger. If your home is insured, your policy will likely include coverage for such damage as long as the storm or other incident causing the tree to fall is covered, even if the tree is not on your property. You may want to check the coverage limit to make sure it is sufficient to pay for all necessary repairs.

Will my home insurance policy cover all kinds of tree damage?

Your home insurance policy may cover any tree damage triggered by a covered incident. However, any damage that happened while you were cutting or trimming parts of the tree will be seen as your responsibility.

Similarly, if a tree suffers root rot causing it to fall fully or partially onto your home, your insurance policy will not cover the resulting damage. A simple way of checking if your policy will cover tree-related damage to your home is to assess if the damage could have been prevented by maintenance or watchfulness on your part.

If you have trees growing in the vicinity of your home, you should consider monitoring the trees from time to time for any signs of ageing or rotting. For example, a tree branch may begin to stress a wall or window, and you may not realise the potential for damage until there’s an actual crack. If you feel a tree is likely to damage your home, and cutting or pruning it will not minimise the risk, you should talk to your insurer about removing the tree.

When should I file a tree root damage insurance claim? 

The first thing you need to do if your home suffers damage due to a tree is to assess and document the damage, as you’ll need to add the details to your insurance claim. For instance, a falling branch may cause a pipe to burst, in which case you may have to file a claim for water damage.

Again, the branch should have fallen due to a storm or another incident which is covered by your home insurance policy, and your claim may be considered as, say, storm damage. If it fell when you were trying to trim it, your insurer will likely deny your insurance claim.

While you may receive a settlement that covers removal of debris from your home, you may need to pay for clearing or removing the damaged tree. Also, if a tree is uprooted in a storm but does not affect any part of your home, your insurer may not pay for removing it from your property.

In such a case you’ll have to pay for an arborist to take care of the tree out of your own pocket. If the tree stood on someone else’s property, and their home insurance policy includes liability coverage, you may be able to have them to cover the damage to your home.

You may not be able to file an insurance claim if the tree fell due to an earth movement such as an earthquake, which the average home insurance policy does not usually cover. Usually, your insurer will seek to verify that the damage caused to your home could not have been predicted or prevented, before processing your insurance claim.

  • You should consider reading the insurance provider’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to understand the coverage limits for the various incidents that are likely to result in tree damage to your home.

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Learn more about home insurance

Is hail damage covered by home insurance?

If storms are among the incidents covered by your home insurance policy, hail damage protection is more than likely assured. While all policies differ based on your needs and what a home insurance provider will offer, some things are close to a certainty. 

Extreme weather events tend to be unpredictable in their severity, but dangerous all the same. You'll never be able to fully prepare for any damage caused, be it lightning, strong winds, rain leading to flooding, or hailstorms, but home insurance can at least provide you with a way to deal with life's unpredictable nature. 

If your home suffers from hail damage, you can file a claim with your insurer. In the event that this happens, remember to take pictures of any hail damage as an insurance adjuster will need to evaluate the impact on your home. Any additional wind damage to your roof will also need to be documented similarly.

You may want to check if your home insurance also covers hail damage to the cars parked on your property, and then file the claim for the total damage caused by the hailstorm. Once your claim is approved, your insurer should offer you either a cash settlement or refer you to a network vendor for the necessary repairs.

Do I need home insurance for a home loan?

While home insurance isn’t necessarily a requirement for a home purchase per se, it’s likely that if you’re purchasing a home with the help of a home loan, you’ll need to take out home insurance on the property. Home insurance can be one of the factors required in the pre-settlement documentation for a home purchase, and you may be advised by either the bank or a broker (or both) ahead of settlement.  

What is a home insurance premium?

Your home insurance premium is what you pay your insurance provider for covering your home under their home insurance policy. It is calculated based on the type of coverage you choose for your home as well as any additional coverage you buy for either your possessions or specific incidents. Your premium can either be paid annually or in smaller instalments. 

Your home insurance policy may cover the total replacement cost, which is the actual expense of rebuilding your home from scratch. Alternatively, it can cover an insured sum, which is a predetermined estimate of what it might cost to rebuild your home. You’re more likely to pay a higher premium for total replacement cover than for insured sum coverage.

Apart from selecting your coverage, you’ll have to figure out your excess, which is the amount you pay out of your own pocket for each insurance claim. If you are okay with paying a higher excess, your insurance premium may be lower. Conversely, if you choose a lower excess, you may pay a higher premium. 

Your insurance premium can also be higher if you live in an area prone to incidents like floods, bushfires, or theft, as insurers are more likely to receive a higher number of claims in such neighbourhoods. 

If you also want to buy insurance for your belongings, a combined home and contents insurance policy may have a lower premium than paying premiums on separate policies for your home and your belongings. 

Are bikes covered under home insurance?

Ordinarily, home insurance only covers damage to your house, which can include additional buildings such as garages, sheds, and fences, as well as permanent fixtures. 

However, to protect the items located in your home or in any of these other buildings, you will likely need to purchase home and contents insurance. Even so, your bike would only be covered if it does not require separate vehicle registration, as is the case for bicycles and 50cc minibikes, but not motorcycles, and only when located on your property, parked or otherwise. 

Depending on the cost of your bicycle or minibike, you can have it listed in your home and contents insurance as a high-value item. You'll want to check your insurer’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to know the normal coverage limit for a bike included as part of your home and contents insurance, as well as the incidents which are covered. 

Insuring your bicycle can be distinct to insuring any personal effects on your bike at the time, or even using the bike when you're out and about. If you want to cover those, such as something in a basket or a camera equipped to the bicycle, or the bike itself as you travel, you will likely need to purchase additional personal effects insurance. You can also read about any additional coverage available under the personal effects policy, though for full coverage, an ideal option will likely be a separate bike insurance policy.

What does home insurance cover?

What home insurance specifically covers and the extent of the coverage depends on the insurance provider and the individual policy. However, home insurance typically covers the property and other permanent structures found on or in the property, such as fences, in-ground swimming pools, garages, and dishwashers, to name a few.

There are usually two types of homeowner's insurance you can choose from, with "total replacement cover" or "sum-insured cover". 

If you’re not sure which option to take, it may be worthwhile to speak to a professional valuer to understand how much it might cost to rebuild your home and replace what's inside.

How do you compare home insurance rates?

When you compare the home insurance quotes offered by various Australian insurers, consider looking at the type of coverage they offer as well as coverage limits and exclusions. You can choose an insurance policy which covers either the total replacement cost, which is the actual cost of rebuilding your home from scratch, or a fixed insured sum, which is an estimate of the cost to rebuild. The home insurance policy is likely to cost you more if you go for the total replacement cost coverage.

Your insurance policy’s exclusions and coverage limits usually depend on how exposed your home is to adverse events like floods and bushfires. It also tells you the maximum compensation that your insurer is likely to pay for damage caused to your home. If you live in an area with a greater incidence of crime or disasters, your insurance policy will likely cost you more.

The amount you actually pay for home insurance can be adjusted by agreeing to a higher excess, which is what you will pay over and above the insured amount from your own pocket. You should consider using the online calculators provided by various insurers to check how different coverage limits affect your insurance premium.

What is home insurance?

For homeowners, home insurance can provide some financial protection to your property when things don’t go as planned. If you have home insurance and your property is damaged (or even the permanent fixtures inside), you could make a claim to your insurer to cover the costs of getting it fixed, replaced or rebuilt.

The idea behind property insurance is that you pay insurance providers to take on the risk of loss or damage to your property that you would otherwise be carrying. 

How much is home insurance?

How much your home insurance could cost and the amount of premiums you pay will depend on many factors, including the amount you need to cover, the excess you're willing to pay, and what type of cover you want to take. 

It's important not to base your insurance policy decision solely on the premiums being charged, reviewing what the policy covers, its features, claim exclusions, and caps when deciding which home insurance policy is the right one for you.

Do I need home insurance?

While homeowners' insurance is not legally required, it’s an option for those who want financial protection for their property. Some mortgage lenders may even require borrowers to take out home insurance.