There are a number of views expressed in this Newsletter concerning home insurers attitude to trees near property. As any reader will know; an enquiry to an insurance company for a quotation for home insurance will lead to two important questions being asked.
Are there any trees over 5 metres in height and within 25 metres of the property?
Is there any evidence of subsidence in the area?
There can be few residents who can claim their house is more than 25 metres from a tree of over 5 metres, and even less who claim ignorance of knowledge of subsidence within a quarter of a mile. Five metres to the top of a small fruit tree or decorative Acer giving patio shade is not great. And twenty-five metres, a little over the length of a cricket pitch, must surely bring trees planted on the edge of the pavement within this distance of most houses.
Many people, in seeking a new insurance quotation are put off by attempting honestly to answer these questions, and usually end off paying the increased premium inevitably demanded, year on year, by their existing company.
To complicate matters further; Dulwich, following the trend elsewhere, is in the midst of a "green revolution" with the 'Dulwich Growing Greener' campaign appearing to be gathering pace. On other pages in this newsletter David Nicholson-Lord emphasises the importance of trees as part of this issue. Stella Benwell, in her role as chairman of the Tree Committee writes what seems to be a desperate appeal to defend the trees under threat in College Road. John Major, Chief Executive of the Dulwich Estate replies in detail to the problems over the demands of insurance companies to remove trees on its property.
Can all these conflicting demands be reconciled, and can we still get insurance on our houses if (a) there is a tree within 25 metres and (b) there is a case of subsidence nearby? If we are sincerely want a greener sustainable environment which will improve the long term quality of life then they should be.
What is needed is some creative thinking on overcoming the hurdles raised by insurance companies on the question of trees near property. All the commercial properties on the Dulwich Estate as well as its leasehold properties, are covered by a blanket insurance policy issued by the Norwich Union. Each leaseholder is then billed by the Estate annually, to which is added a 15% management charge.
Would it not be possible for properties subject to the Scheme of Management charge to be included in a similar such scheme? It could be made a requirement of the insurance company that the presence of existing trees be acknowledged, and that in the event of a subsidence claim, full root surveys be carried out to determine if a particular tree is causing the problem, before a demand to remove the tree is made.
Insurance after all, all comes down to risk. Three thousand plus freeholders under the Scheme of Management at say £1000 each per annum is an annual premium of at least £3million. Certainly a substantial sum to any insurance company, and potentially a business proposition. Worth a try? Desperate times requite desperate measures!
The Dulwich Society would welcome your views on this subject.