Home Owners Insurance and Trees – You Love Them Your Insurance Company Hates Them

Coverage for damage caused by trees and for the trees themselves is one of many confusing areas of a Homeowners insurance policy.

Your neighbors’ tree falls and damages your garage, shed and fence.

Will insurance pay for the damage?

Whose insurance should pay?

What will they pay for?

A tree falls in your yard.

Will your insurance policy pay for it to be removed?

Will it pay for a new tree?

A tree limb breaks from wind or a lightning storm and is dangling over your house.

Will your insurance policy pay for it to be removed?

What if it’s hanging over a neighbor’s house?

A tree falls on your car.

What policy will cover the damage to my car?

Is there coverage for the tree removal?

First, the basics; it does not matter whose tree it was. If there is damage to your property (from anyone’s tree) your insurance policy is the one to respond. If there is damage from your tree to a neighbor’s property, their insurance policy is involved. If there is damage to both properties (from anyone’s tree) both policies will be involved and each will deal with its own property only.

The only time a Homeowners insurance policy should be involved with damage to someone else’s property is if there is liability involved. That is if the tree was rotten or leaning and should have been removed or trimmed prior to the damage occurring. Even then the damaged properties insurance policy will generally pay for their customer’s damage and then try to recover their money from the tree owners’ insurance company.

Second, the important consideration for coverage is; what is physically damaged. If a tree, or portion of a tree, falls and does not damage any real property there is no coverage. Real property is any building, structure or contents item it does not include land, landscaping or plants of any kind. A fence, shed, patio, driveway, swing set or bicycle would count as real property.

If a tree falls into your yard and does not cause any damage to the home or any other real property then there is no coverage to remove the tree or for any cleanup. Sorry!

If there is damage to anything such as a fence then the policy should cover repairs or replacement of the damaged item(s) and also limited coverage for removal of the tree. To make this even more confusing; the tree removal coverage is divided in 2 phases.

Phase 1: Getting the tree removed off of the real property is covered with no sub-limit. That is if a tree is on a storage shed then the first stage of tree removal is to remove it off the shed so repairs can be made. The only limit for this part of the removal is the coverage limit on this section of your policy; in this case the Other Structures coverage.

If the repairs to the shed and the tree removal combined are greater than the coverage available then there is an additional coverage available for debris removal. This is 5% in most cases, so if you have $10,000 coverage on Other Structures you can have up to $10,500 for the repairs and tree removal cost.

Phase 2: The second stage of tree removal is removing the tree debris off the premises. This portion is limited to $500 or $1,000, this limit can vary by insurance company, policy type and state involved.

Third, the tree itself is covered in certain limited circumstances and for a limited amount only. The tree is not covered for wind or hail damage but is covered for damage from fire, lightning, explosion, vandalism and vehicle damage (as long as it was not a vehicle driven by members of your family). The limit is typically $500 per tree but can be more on some policies and in some states.

Fourth, If a damaged tree is leaning toward your home or dangling precipitously over your home what is covered? Assuming that portion of the tree has not damaged real property then there is NO coverage. Even if another tree or portion of the same tree has caused damage.

It is your responsibility to protect your property. The insurance policy only covers damage, NOT potential damage. The same is true if one of your trees is dangling over someone else’s property, no coverage for potential damage.

If you ignore the situation and the tree later falls and causes damage to the neighbor’s home their insurance will cover their damage. They will then want to recover their money from your insurance company, or you. This is called subrogation.

If the later damage occurs to your home your insurance company could try to deny coverage because you did not protect the property.

The Homeowners insurance policy covers sudden and accidental damage it is not a maintenance policy.

Finally, damage to any automobile will only be covered on the auto policy (then only if you have Comprehensive coverage). The tree removal will not be covered by your Homeowners policy unless other real property was damaged.

See our websites mentioned below for more information. You can send direct questions or read what other homeowners have asked.



Source by Geary Morris