19.20 Timber Lands


In General

Timber land is land that is covered with growing trees suitable for use as timber for building purposes.

Ownership of timber land may be either public or private.

The insurance of public timber land is extrahazardous and demands a thorough research of Federal and State Law.

Company approval must be obtained before issuing any commitment to insure public or private timber land.

A similar situation arises with regard to land covered by trees producing citrus, fruit or nuts. Trees on these lands typically will not be cut but rather remain in place for many years producing crops. In many states, ownership of these trees may be severed from the ownership of the estate. Whether or not the trees can be severed the crops produced by the trees are generally considered to be personal property whether on the trees or after they are picked. In states where Stewart has authority to issue personal property insurance, such crops may be insured in accordance with the terms and conditions of the personal property insurance products.


Transfer Of Private Timber Lands

Rules governing the construction, operation and effect of conveyances of land generally apply to conveyances of timber lands.

When standing trees are severed from the soil, they become personal property, but the owner's title is not affected.

After a severance, timber will not pass by a subsequent conveyance of the land.

Any conveyance of timber land without reservation of or exception for the timber ordinarily carries the standing timber. However, timber severed prior to the conveyance does not pass with the land.


Reservation And Exception Of Timber

The grantor of any timber land may reserve or except the standing timber from the operation of the conveyance, and in the interest in the timber will then constitute a separate estate.


Power To Sell Timber Separately From The Land

Standing timber may be conveyed separately from the land. Two distinct estates are created, one in the land and the other in the timber.

In at least one state, Texas, it appears that the purchaser of the standing timber has only a reasonable time in which to harvest it. A Texas court held that Instruments which merely convey growing timber with a license to remove same, without stipulating the time within which it may or must be removed, imply the removal of the timber within a reasonable time. It is important that the examination determine if the documents provide for a time in which to harvest the trees.


Insurance Of Timber Lands

The specific problems affecting the insurance of timber lands are:

  • Insurable legal descriptions
  • Ownership of the timber

You must ascertain that the timber:

  • Has not been severed from the land
  • Has not been excepted or reserved from the land
  • Is being conveyed in conjunction with land

    Note: Any severance, exception or reservation requires an appropriate exception in Schedule B of the policy as to the timber.

  • Is not covered in a financing statement recorded in the county real estate records or filed in the office of the Secretary of State.

Exceptions: The following exceptions must be included in all policies insuring or securing a severed interest in trees whether as timber, citrus, fruit or nuts.

• Company does not insure that there is a particular number, kind or quality of trees of any sort or type located on the Land.

• Company does not insure that the owner of the real property as opposed to the ________ trees will provide any or all care necessary for the growing of any trees or the production of any fruit or nuts located thereon.

• Company does not insure the amount, kind or quality of timber, fruit or nuts from any trees located on the Land.

• Company does not insure that there is a market of any kind for the timber, fruit or nuts, if any, produced from the trees, if any, located on the Land.

• Any provision in any document providing for a reasonable or set time at which all or some portion of the trees, fruit or nuts are to be harvested.

• Company does not insure that the _______ Legislature will not pass a law or that a state agency or a court of competent jurisdiction after policy date will not enter a ruling or judgment of any type holding that ______ trees in place are not real property.