When Trees Fall Who Pays for What?
February and March can have some of the most turbulent weather in New England. We all know harsh weather can mean downed trees. So, who pays for what when trees fall on your property, your car, your neighbor’s house? The answer is – it all depends!
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about trees damage and insurance.
Does homeowners insurance cover damage caused by a tree or a large tree limb falling on my house?
If the tree was otherwise healthy and damaged your home because of a peril like wind or lightning you are most likely covered.
A typical homeowners insurance policy may pay to repair damage to your home, other structures (decks, carports, sheds, fences, etc.), damage to any personal property inside the structure, removal of fallen trees/branches, reasonable temporary housing (while repairs are being made).
However, homeowners insurance usually won’t cover loss or damage caused by negligence or a maintenance-related issue. If you know your tree is unsafe (dead or rotting) and you do not take measures to fix it before disaster strikes (causes injury, falls on your house or your neighbor’s house) you can be held financially responsible.
What happens if my neighbor’s tree falls on my house?
If your home is damaged by your neighbor’s tree, you make a claim through your homeowners insurance carrier.
My neighbor’s tree fell into my yard. Are they responsible for its removal?
For the most part homeowners are responsible for what falls into their own yard. So, if a storm causes your neighbor’s tree to fall in your yard, you are most likely responsible for its removal.
The neighbor would typically only considered responsible if neglect was a contributing factor to the tree’s demise. Say you and your neighbor had a conversation about a dead tree in their yard you were worried about and it then fell into your yard. They may be held financially responsible for its removal.
Have said that, sometimes insurance companies may help cover the cost of removal if the fallen tree becomes an obstacle – like blocking a driveway or entrance into your home.
A tree damaged my home or another structure on my property does my insurance pay for tree removal then?
If a tree damages a covered structure on your property (like your house or shed), home insurance may help cover the cost to remove the tree, typically up to $500 to $1,000, depending on your policy. Even if it does not cover tree removal, the policy will cover the damage to your house or other insured structure. However, as stated before, if a tree just came down landing on your lawn and is not blocking your entry it is typically your financial responsibility to have it removed. This all depends upon the types of endorsements your particular policy has.
A tree from my property fell on my car. Does my homeowners insurance cover it?
Most of the time – no. Your homeowner’s policy would not cover the damage to your automobile. In this case, you’d need to file a claim with your auto insurance. Whether or not it would be a covered loss depends on if you have comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage typically helps pay to repair damage to your car caused by falling objects.
What if my neighbor’s tree falls on my car; don’t they have to pay for it?
Not likely. The damage done to your vehicle would typically be covered under your own auto policy and you would be responsible for the deductible, unless you can prove your neighbor’s tree was rotten and they knew about it and didn’t take action.
Won’t my home insurance pay for a damaged or dying tree to be removed before it falls?
No. Insurance does not cover preventative maintenance to your home or landscaping.
For more information, read your policy or check with your agent to learn what types of coverage and how much coverage your policy provides for damage caused by a fallen tree.