Japanese Knotweed Indemnity Insurance – Protecting You and Your Neighbours

Native to East Asia, Japanese Knotweed, also known as Asian Knotweed, is a large herbaceous perennial plant that has successfully established itself in numerous countries, including the UK, and is commonly classified as an invasive species. Resembling bamboo, Japanese Knotweed was introduced to Europe around 1829 and sold as an ornamental plant, first reaching UK shores in 1850 when it was displayed at Kew Gardens. It can reach heights of up to 4 meters and is often used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat fungal infections. Insuring against the effects of this invasive plant can prove to be a wise decision, considering the devastating effects it can have on a property.

Knotweed is classified by the International Union of Conservation of Nature as one of the worlds worst invasive species, spread by human activity with broken parts of the plant being able to grow into new plants, in effect clones of the original plant. In fact, all Japanese Knotweed in the UK today, is a clone of that first plant brought back to Europe in 1829! The plant’s tolerance of a wide range of soil types contributes to it’s aggressive spread, crowding out all other plant life where it takes hold.

You don’t want this kind of Growth in the Property Market!

If you’ve ever been through the process of buying or selling a property, you will have perhaps been asked questions about the plant. Japanese Knotweed’s strength is in its root system. It grows quickly and vigorously and has been known to cause major structure issues where it comes into contact with concrete foundations, buildings, retaining walls as well as pavements and roads. The cost of the damage it can cause can be significant. Even if there has been no damage, the cost of treating japenese knotweed can be major, depending on the extent to which the plant has become established, and may take several years to eradicate fully.  A reduction in property values of between 5-20% can be experience where knotweed has taken hold and not removed by qualified experts offering a guarantee. A full excavation and disposal of a medium sized plot of land can cost anywhere between £15,000 and £40,000. That’s one expensive ornamental plant! With costs potentially running into the tens of thousands, a specialised insurance policy could well be a good idea, particularly  if there is a history of Japanese Knotweed in or around the property.

Network Rail – Going Underground!

The finding of a recent court case involving Network Rail will have major implications for landowners (on both sides of the fence) across the UK. Network Rail were ordered to pay £15,000 after they allowed Japanese Knotweed to encroach on two adjoining properties in Bridgend County, Wales. The owners had reported the issue several years prior, but Network Rail failed to address it. They are unable to challenge the ruling on the basis the knotweed had extended underground beneath the properties. Historically, the spread of Japanese Knotweed is thought to have been massively aided by the development of the UK’s rail and water networks. Large organisations, with vast areas of idle land will need to pay more attention to what they let grow there!

Removing Japanese Knotweed

Removing Japanese Knotweed is not necessarily a DIY job. It can take years to remove it completely, but in trying to do so, you may in fact be making the issue worse. Due to the nature by which the plant grows, small pieces of the plant can easily re-grow into another plant. If plant disposal isn’t carried out properly, you run the risk of spreading the plant further, perhaps into neighbouring property. Various legislation exists to protect surrounding homeowners from the blight of Japanese Knotweed and the guys at www.phlorum.com do an excellent job of summarising it. They were in fact expert witnesses in the Network Rail case mentioned above. Police and Council Officers are able to use community protection notices in order to discourage people from growing Japanese Knotweed if it is causing issues, with fines of up to £2,500 for individuals not controlling the growth of invasive non-native plants capable of causing not only serious structural issues, but also removing valuable native bio-diversity. Organisations can be fined up to £20,000.

According to an article published in the Telegraph back in 2014, the cost of attempting to eradicate Japanese Knotweed in the UK could be as much as £1.25 billion. Removing the plant from the London Olympics site alone cost over £70 million!

Japanese Knotweed Insurance

Regardless of where it comes from, discovering you have Japanese Knotweed growing on your property can present a major issue. Is there a history of it at the property? Has it been treated by a knotweed removal professional? Do you have any guarantees for the removal work? Is the knotweed plant growing locally, but not on your property? Could knotweed on your land cause issues to surrounding land and property?

Generally, a standard household insurance policy will specifically exclude any claim arising from Japanese Knotweed. If you find it on your property and discover it has damaged the foundations, and spread to neighbouring property, you could be exposed to significant costs to rectify the damage. Having appropriate Japaneses Knotweed Insurance cover will offer some comfort should the worlds most invasive plant take a hold. A good insurance policy will give you piece of mind when considering the costs of removing the Japanese Knotweed and the potential exposure to third party claims as a result of the plant spreading to adjoining property. Generally, a Japanese Knotweed Indemnity Insurance policy will cover:

  • the costs of treatment and removal of Japanese Knotweed, including measures to prevent the plant from reestablishing itself.
  • the costs of a full site survey in the event Knotweed is though to be present
  • reparation costs in the event that the Japanese Knotweed has caused damage to property
  • legal expenses incurred as a result of a third party claim

If you’re thinking Japanese Knotweed is something worth insuring against, then feel free to get in touch with Carl Sharp direct on 01189 165487, use the author link below, or fill out our Contact form at the top of the page.

 

 

 

Author: Carl Sharp | July 4th, 2018

Contact the author

Carl Sharp
Get in touch:   Reading: 0118 916 5480   London: 020 7036 8767   info@macbeths.co.uk