Does My Insurance Cover this Tree Damage?
It's the time of year when storms can wreak havoc on your home, yard, and trees. Worried about the limbs hanging over your roof, the 75-foot pines in your yard, or your neighbor's aging tree along your shared fence?
Whether your insurance covers tree damage depends on a number of factors, like what caused the tree to fall and what was damaged?
What Caused the Tree to Fall?
Trees typically fall due to wind and storms. The good news is that if a tree falls on your home, shed, or fence due to wind, your homeowner's insurance will most often cover it.
On the other hand, if your tree fell due to negligence or a maintenance issue, your homeowner's policy typically won't cover it. That means even if your tree fell during a windstorm, but it was already rotting, your policy may not end up covering it.
What was Damaged?
Let's consider a few more scenarios. Say a tree falls in your yard but doesn't damage your property—you likely won't receive coverage for tree removal. That said, your policy may cover tree removal if the tree becomes an obstacle, like prohibiting you from getting out of your driveway. But if the tree's simply spread out across your yard, you might be on your own.
If your tree falls on your neighbor's home due to a storm, their homeowner's policy would likely cover it. And the reverse is also the case—if your neighbor's tree falls on your home, your policy would cover it.
While that all seems straightforward, if your insurer determines that the tree in your yard—or your neighbor's yard—fell due to negligence, then the damage typically isn't covered. You can imagine how neighborhood relations can quickly spiral if coverage is denied and responsibility isn't taken.
And finally, what if a tree falls on your car? Your homeowner's policy typically won't cover it, but your car insurance might. Optional comprehensive coverage most often covers this type of damage.
Prevent Tree Damage
As you can see, it's important to be a good steward of your trees, especially to avoid coverage issues should trees fall on your property or neighboring property. Look for signs of distress like dead limbs, cracks in the trunk, and limbs near your home or power lines. One of the best things you can do is regularly trim your trees.
Neighboring Tree Concerns
Do you have concerns about the trees beyond your yard? Share your concerns about the potential hazards with your neighbor. If they choose not to address the hazard, and damages happen, you'll need to prove to your insurance company that your neighbors knew about the hazard and didn't address it. Written documentation in the form of emails and texts might be helpful in proving your case.
You would still file the initial claim with your insurance company, but if you can prove your neighbors were neglectful, then your insurance company can attempt to collect from your neighbor's insurance company.
Check Your Coverage
It's also always a good idea to review your homeowner's policy regularly. Take a look at your coverage limits to see how much your homeowner's policy will pay for tree damage.
Want to explore other ways to maintain and enhance your home? Check out our renovation and remodeling ideas.