September has been perfectly lovely in the province so far, and it looks like we’re going to be enjoying a few more weeks of seasonal temperatures at least. The nice weather won’t stop the leaves from starting to fall, unfortunately, revealing the full skeletons of the trees on your property. Fall is actually the perfect opportunity for homeowners that have large trees to take the time to closely inspect them for potential hazards.
Trees are very important for our ecosystem, cleaning the air and providing oxygen, and require regular care and upkeep. Keeping your trees healthy is a good way to lower the risk of accidents happening. When branches fall, they can block roads, crush roofs and walls, and take out power lines. 2021 has already had a few significant weather incidents damaging trees this year, with a couple major wind storms in early January, and then an epic heat wave leading to a severe thunderstorm (including hail), causing serious flooding throughout the city in late June.
One incredible storm in 2014 — the infamous Snowtember ― happened mid-month and ended up damaging tens of thousands of trees in the city. By 2018, the City of Calgary has planted more than 24,000 trees to help replace the city’s canopy, with Calgary residents adding their own contingent as well.
A fallen tree can be a huge expense, one that could even require a home insurance claim. Property owners should assess their trees’ health regularly to help prevent damage.
What should I look for in my trees?
If you have a number of large trees on your property, we highly recommend bringing in a certified arborist to check their condition. Every three years is a common scheduling suggestion. Arborists have the training to be able to spot potential issues and the equipment to handle large and troublesome problems. In addition to spotting potential hazards, such as a branch hanging precariously over your eaves troughs, an arborist can also tell if your trees have a disease of some sort that may be affecting their integrity and be able to recommend a late-fall and early spring treatment.
It’s best to wait until trees have reached full dormancy (all their leaves have fallen), before tackling a pruning job at this time of year, and the concentration should be mainly on dead and dangerous limbs. A full pruning for shape or to thin out a tree should wait until late winter when sap is not running so as not to leave an open wound for pests and bugs to get in.
Common signs of trouble with your trees:
- Broken and dangling branches
- Dead branches
- Cracks at connection points
- Cracks in the trunk
- Too-wide or too-narrow u-junctions
If a tree just can’t be saved and will have to come down, remember to check if it is on your property or the City of Calgary’s. Cutting, pruning, or the removal of a City tree is prohibited unless a permit has been granted. If you can’t determine whether a tree is yours or not, call 311.
Check your home insurance
Home insurance policies will generally cover for wind damage, by far the most common cause of a fallen tree. Unless it can be proven that you have been negligent in your property maintenance and upkeep, most commonly insurance companies will not find homeowners at fault.
If the damage from a fallen tree on your property is minimal, you may want to avoid making an insurance claim and pay for the repairs out of pocket. Remaining claims-free on your policy is one of the best ways to earn lower rates. Balance the cost of your deductible against the cost of clean-up and repairs (and the potential for a raise in rates), and go from there.
Whenever you’re unclear on the terms and conditions of your home insurance, it’s a great time to contact an experienced insurance broker such as us at Lane’s. We can help you decipher your current coverage, determine whether it works for your circumstances, and recommend alternatives for better coverage at the same or lesser cost.
If someone else’s tree falls on your property, don’t assume it is their problem. In most cases, the claim will have to go through your own home insurance company, which will provide the repair and replacement costs. Your company may choose to try to recoup the amount from your neighbour’s insurance company if they can be proven liable, such as if the tree fell while being cut down. Sometimes a neighbour will sue for the cost of their deductible, but nobody really wants to start litigation. The best thing to do, as usual, is to avoid an accident in the first place.
Trust Lane’s for all your Alberta home insurance needs
Insurance brokers are your partners in the insurance business. We have very high standards as to what policies we present, and always ensure our clients have a good understanding of what they are purchasing. We are able to assess your insurance needs on a broader scale than any single provider can, and our exclusive agreements with the best insurance providers in the business allow us to cross reference policies to a level no single insurance company is able.
Lane’s Insurance is pleased to serve homeowners and residents throughout Alberta. Use the following regional links to contact us at: