From time to time, Unimutual is notified of claims in respect of privately-owned vehicles which have been parked on a Member’s campus and which have been damaged by falling branches. This topic was the subject of a previous article in the February 2009 edition (click here). In this article, we outline two recent claims involving falling branches.
We have received a claim in respect of four cars, which were damaged when a large tree branch fell on them at a Member’s rural campus. The cars were severely damaged, and at least one of them was not insured. The owner of the uninsured vehicle (a student’s father) was most displeased about the incident and soon engaged a solicitor. The Member engaged an arborist to inspect the remains of the tree (unfortunately, the fallen branch had already been removed) and provide an opinion as to why the failure had occurred. The Member also advised us that the weather had been calm at the time of the incident. The arborist’s report was helpful in providing a technical explanation of why this type of failure occurs in this type of tree (Yellow Box). However, the arborist was unable to provide any useful advice as to the foreseeability of the failure and what, if anything, the Member could reasonably be expected to have done to prevent the failure from occurring.