Maintaining your trees and sidewalks will reduce your liability exposure and provide improved curb appeal. From an insurance standpoint, an uneven sidewalk creates a trip hazard, and a tree with dead limbs presents the risk of falling objects. When we consider the risk and potential out of pocket expenses (your deductible plus increased premium for a claim), it is far more prudent to exercise prevention in both cases.
First, let’s look at trees. If your property has mature trees then it’s likely that pruning may be necessary. Consulting an arborist who will consider the health of the tree would be advisable. By tending to these branches early, you can prevent not only the risk that they may fall on your home or car, but it also reduces the risk of injury to your family or those passing by your home. We have had two large branches come down from a large oak tree. Fortunately, the first landed safely across our front yard; and miraculously, the second fell just feet away from a pedestrian and covered the sidewalk and street where a car is normally parked. While it can be expensive to hire a crew to do this work, there is no need to risk damage to property or a serious injury. The cost to clean up the fallen branches, particularly if they occur during a storm when demand is high, could comparatively cost the same as planning properly.
Sidewalk repairs may vary based on your municipality or if you have a homeowners association. As the owner of the property though, you are likely liable for trips and falls. If your sidewalk has buckled causing slab sections to become uneven or if the slab itself has cracked and broken apart, then it’s best to have them repaired. Proper maintenance of your sidewalk can be just as important to underwriting as the condition of your roof or home itself. As a responsible homeowner it is important that regular maintenance occurs to maintain your eligibility for a homeowners policy. Depending on the conditions, a concrete contractor may be able to grind or level the surface without replacing the block of sidewalk.
Sidewalks and trees can also be linked at times when they share the same space. For additional information, Iowa State University provides a few tips on the topic. http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1995/3-31-1995/sidetree.html
Simply walk your property — look up at the trees and down at the sidewalk – and you’ll be able to better manage your risk. By addressing these two areas you can save yourself money on your insurance premiums and reduce the likelihood that someone sustains an injury.