Fallen Tree Damage and Your Homeowners Insurance
How will your home insurance policy respond to a fallen tree?
The answer is, it depends. So here are several scenarios and ways insurance will likely respond.
A Tree Fell on My House and Caused Damage
Fortunately, this is probably covered by home insurance. Let me clarify. Good homeowners insurance does cover wind damage. So, a storm that blows a tree or large branch onto your home would be covered as a wind claim. Then any resulting damage would be part of the claim. So, rain pouring into your new “skylight” would be covered as well.
Now, the caveat to that is the claim has to be from wind. Homeowners insurance does not cover neglect or maintenance issues. Ever. Basically, you’re responsible for clearing dead and damaged trees before they damage your property. You can’t rely on homeowners insurance to replace proper home maintenance.
A Giant Tree Fell in my Yard
If you’re only talking about debris clean up, then a home policy probably won’t provide coverage. There has to be damage for your homeowners policy to pay on a claim. Remember, it’s home insurance, not land insurance.
But, if there is damage to a fence, shed, barn, or other covered structure, then insurance will likely pay for the damage and clean up.
My Driveway is Blocked by a Fallen Limb
This is what we call impaired property. The driveway isn’t actually damaged, but it’s unusable because of the fallen branch. In this case, your home insurance will likely pay. However, most insurance policies have deductibles starting at $1000. So it may not be worth initiating a claim. You may want to call a tree service to get a quote before initiating a claim.
A Tree on My Property Fell onto my Neighbor’s Property
Let’s assume we’re talking about an otherwise healthy tree. In that case, the fallen tree is not your issue. You’re typically only responsible for tree damage to others if neglect led to the claim. So, if the tree was dead or damaged, then you may have a liability issue. If not, then your neighbor should call their own insurance company to file a property damage claim.
My Neighbor’s Tree Damaged my Property
This situation will work exactly in reverse of the situation described above. In order for your neighbor to be liable for the damage, they must be negligent.
Think of it this way. Let’s say a tornado strikes. It picks up a tree from a quarter mile away and drops it on your house. Should the homeowner down the street pay for you
BONUS: What Should I do if my Neighbor’s Tree Looks Like a Danger to my Property?
First, let’s acknowledge that they are your neighbors. So, a little diplomacy may be in order.
You’ll want to document that you’ve pointed out the hazardous condition to them. This can mean sending a registered letter (not especially diplomatic, but effective), or maybe just a text or email conversation. The key is that you want to make sure that you can prove they were aware the tree posed a threat. Then if the tree does damage, they can’t plea ignorance.
Beyond that, you can trim the tree yourself, but only the part above your property. If you’re going to go this route or intend legal action, we recommend speaking with an attorney. Here’s what NOLO has to say on the matter.
The short version is that a good home insurance policy covers most tree damage. Work with a reputable broker and buy a solid policy. Homeowners insurance is not the place to get cheap guys! If you’re not so sure about your insurance coverage, call or click to get a quote today!