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The importance of maintaining your property cannot be overstated when it comes to preserving your homeowners insurance coverage. With insurance carriers leveraging aerial photographs to assess property conditions, homeowners must prioritize maintenance efforts to avoid policy nonrenewal or cancellation.

Juliann Balla, Vice President / Personal Lines Manager, Knauf Maxwell Insurance Services

Trees, bushes, ivy and other vegetation can enhance the aesthetics of buildings and provides protection against the elements. However, when left unchecked, it can pose significant risks to the structural integrity of a building. This article explores the various risks associated with biological growth on structures and offers strategies for facilities managers to mitigate them effectively.

Understanding Risks:

Different types of vegetation present different threats to buildings. Facilities managers should understand the specific risks associated with the vegetation on their property to best mitigate future risk.

Trees and Bushes:

  • Proximity to buildings can lead to increased fire hazards. Trees and bushes placed too close to a structure can increase damage if combustion were to occur..
  • Overgrown branches can cause exterior damage, clogged gutters, and pose a risk of falling onto roofs or passersby.
  • Root systems can infiltrate cracks, causing foundation issues such as uplift and uneven settling.


  • While generally harmless to well-built masonry, ivy can exacerbate existing cracks in older buildings, leading to moisture ingress and structural weakness.


  • These plants attach firmly to roofing systems and, if left unchecked, can accelerate the need for roof replacement by causing permanent damage to shingles and sheet metals.
  • They also contribute to frost-related damage, moisture retention, and blockage of rainwater disposal systems.
  • Many insurance carriers are conducting aerial inspections of properties. Properties with moss and lichen on the roof are facing potential policy cancellation or non-renewal.


  • Uncontrolled vegetation may harbor pests, providing them with access to the building’s interior.

Prevention Measures:

Facilities managers can implement several preventive measures to mitigate risks associated with vegetation:

  1. Trim trees and bushes regularly to contain growth and prevent damage from overhanging branches.
  2. Ensure proper water drainage away from the building to discourage plant growth.
  3. Regularly maintain gutters to prevent debris accumulation and water retention.
  4. Clean surfaces prone to vegetation growth using pressure washing to remove dirt and moisture-retaining debris.

With proper care and maintenance, trees and other vegetation can enhance the beauty of a landscape. However, neglecting their upkeep can result in significant property damage. Facilities managers play a crucial role in implementing preventive measures to safeguard both interior and exterior building structures and systems. For further guidance, feel free to reach out to Knauf Maxwell Insurance Services today.

This Commercial Property Insights is intended as general information. The information contained in this article is not exhaustive nor should it be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or a licensed insurance professional for tailored guidance. © 2024 Knauf Maxwell Insurance Services . All rights reserved.