Like it or not, autumn’s arrival means unsettled weather is heading to Alberta. Strong storms bring the ever-present possibility of property damage, and many homeowners have questions about how this affects their Calgary home insurance.
First, you should be aware that the vast majority of home insurance policies will not cover damage to trees or landscaped exterior elements. Most coverage programs offer compensation for roofs, decks, and vehicles that were damaged by downed trees or other consequences of severe weather. However, it is rare for this coverage to extend beyond conventional assets.
Another question that arises when trees come down relates to trees which straddle two adjacent properties. If the tree comes down, who is responsible for the damages? Who has to take care of the cleanup?
How Property Lines Affect Insurance
Property lines play an important role in Calgary home insurance; they are used to define risk origination and can have a major impact on your insurance rates. For example, if your home has an elevated flood risk by virtue of its location, or if your property contains features that could cause damage to your home or your neighbours’ homes, your insurance premiums may be adjusted to reflect that risk.
As for the specific example of downed trees, Alberta laws clearly state that any tree which straddles two or more property lines is the equally shared property of all affected homeowners. This applies if the tree’s trunk extends across one or more property lines.
There are several other issues to consider in regards to trees:
- What happens if a neighbour’s tree falls and damages my property? If the tree was healthy when it fell, then chances are you won’t have the grounds to claim damages against your neighbour. However, if you warned your neighbour about the tree and nothing was done about it, legal precedents have been set that could allow you to collect compensation.
- Can I remove a dying tree? In most cases, you will need a report from a certified arborist confirming the tree is actually dying before you will be allowed to completely remove it.
- Who is allowed to trim tree branches? This is one of the oldest neighbourly disputes. If a tree located on your neighbour’s property encroaches on your home or any landscape elements on your property, you are completely within your rights to trim any part of the tree that is across your property line.
- Are certain trees protected? In Calgary, “heritage trees” cannot be altered by homeowners. If you have any questions about heritage trees, you should contact the City of Calgary. Also, keep in mind that trees located close to roads typically remain the property of the city, and that the city is responsible for their maintenance and upkeep.
Find Your Property Lines
The first step in determining your potential liability is to know exactly where your property lines are. They will be detailed in your home’s property deeds, but if your deed isn’t readily accessible, you can also visit the City of Calgary website to look up property lines by address.
Calgary Home Insurance: Discover the Lane’s Advantage
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