Fallen Trees and Branch Damage Claims
When making a claim against the City for property damage related to City trees, there are several factors that are considered in determining the City’s responsibility. Some of these factors include:
- Whether there was any visible evidence of decay prior to the incident
- Whether the City was put on notice or was aware of the condition of the tree prior to the incident
- If the City was aware of the condition of the tree, whether the City’s inspection and maintenance activities were reasonable
The mere fact that a City tree caused damage does not warrant automatic compensation from the City. An investigation will look into the history of the tree to consider all factors.
If the tree/limb failure occurred as a result of a storm event, then the City will not be responsible for your property damage.
According to the City of Toronto Act you are required to submit a claim letter or email to the City Clerk for property damage or injury. You are encouraged to submit your claim as soon as possible.
The claim letter should include the following:
- Your name, home address, phone number and email address
- Date, time and location of accident which caused the property damage or injury
- Exact municipal address including a diagram and/or photo of accident location should be submitted with claim letter
- Describe how the accident happened and names, phone numbers of any witnesses
- Detailed description of your property damage or injury
- Include documentation that you believe support your claim such as: photos, receipts and estimates
- Outline why you believe the City is responsible for the accident
- Did you report this accident to the City, if so, please provide name(s) of City staff involved
- If a City Contractor was involved please provide contractor’s name
- Failure to provide exact municipal address will delay the processing of your claim
- Scanned documents are acceptable- there is limit of 10 MB for each email transmission
Where to submit your claim letter
Your claim letter can be received by email, mail or fax:
City Clerk’s Office – Claims
100 Queen Street West,
9th Floor, West Tower
Toronto, Ontario, M5H 2N2
The City Clerk’s Office forwards all claims to the City of Toronto’s insurance adjusters, ClaimsPro, for evaluation.
If you submitted by email:
- Claim letters submitted by email will be acknowledged by the City Clerk’s Office within two business days upon receipt of your email.
- ClaimsPro will send an initial acknowledgement email within two business day upon receipt of your email from the City Clerk’s Office.
- A ClaimsPro Claims Adjuster will be assigned to investigate your claim and will also send you an acknowledgement email within two business days of being assigned the claim.
- If you submitted by mail or fax:
- Claim letters submitted by mail or fax should receive an acknowledgement letter from the City Clerk’s Office within ten business days upon receipt of your letter.
- ClaimsPro will send an acknowledgement letter within two business days upon receipt of your letter from the City Clerk’s Office.
- A ClaimsPro Claims Adjuster will be assigned to investigate your claim and will also send you an acknowledgement letter within two business days of being assigned the claim.
- Generally, you should receive an acknowledgment letter within 10 business days, however delays may occur due to mail and courier service.
The ClaimsPro Claims Adjuster is your contact person for the status of your claim.
If you do not receive an acknowledgement letter please contact ClaimsPro at 416-252-4431.
There will be an investigation by the City’s adjusters to determine if the City is responsible for your loss. The investigation will consist of gathering information from you and the City’s Forestry Operations. Records from the division will be reviewed to determine if the City was on notice of the condition of the tree prior to the loss and if so, whether reasonable maintenance, inspection and response standards were met.
Forestry Operations’ records include reports from the City’s Toronto Maintenance Management System (TMMS), such as the Address History Record, which includes all complaints, as well as all inspection and maintenance activities performed on City-owned street trees adjacent to a particular municipal address. A Tree Break/Injury Damage Report may also exist. This record is created by Forestry staff who respond on site to a complaint that damage has been caused by a City tree. This report outlines the condition of the tree at the time of the incident, the nature of the failure and whether exterior decay on the tree is evident.
In addition, Environment Canada weather records are collected and reviewed to confirm wind speeds, precipitation and if a severe weather system was passing through the City at the time of the loss.
It should be noted that presence of internal decay in a tree discovered after a loss does not necessarily mean that the tree was unhealthy or that the City is responsible.
If reasonable standards have not been met, the adjuster will contact you in an effort to resolve your claim.
Typically, property damage claims are completed within 90 days.
In cases of extreme storm events such as heavy rain, snowstorms or windstorms, the City does receive a higher volume of claims which generally extends the time it takes to process insurance claims. In these cases, the City’s investigation may take longer than 90 days. The adjuster will advise you if your claim falls in the “storm event” category.
You should be contacting your insurer about your loss. Repairs may be expedited by making a claim through your insurance company.
The City’s adjuster will outline the results of their investigation in a letter and provide you with the division’s report that justifies the City’s denial.
It’s important to know that the majority of property damage claims made against the City of Toronto are denied as City divisions regularly meet or exceed standard service levels.
If you still wish to pursue your claim after being denied compensation, your next option is to proceed with a legal action.
For more information regarding the claims process, please contact the City of Toronto’s Claims Inquiry Line at 416-397-4212.
Frequently asked questions about making a claim for damages
- I need a rental vehicle because my vehicle is badly damaged or unsafe to drive. How can I get a rental vehicle?
Before a claim is filed and investigated, ClaimsPro cannot authorize payment for a rental vehicle. If you need to rent a vehicle, it is your own decision.
Please note that the claims adjuster must complete an investigation to determine if the City is responsible for your property damage before it can approve any costs related to a rental vehicle. You may consider contacting your own automobile insurance company for assistance in the meantime.
If you choose to rent a vehicle before hearing from your insurance company, you may be responsible for all or part of that expense.