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August 19, 2022
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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tree Damage?

Introduction

While you’re responsible for taking care of and protecting your property, homeowners’ insurance helps to ease the burden when something unfortunate takes place. A tree falling on your property is certainly one synch event. In such cases, you can search for “tree service near me” and hire professionals to remove the tree. However, what about the damages? Let’s check out if homeowners’ insurance covers tree damage.

The Details

  1. Homeowners insurance covers tree damage under certain conditions – Depending on the unique situation, homeowners’ insurance may or may not cover tree damage. Your insurance company will cover the damage if the cause of the tree falling is due to a named or open peril covered by your insurance policy. Apart from the covered structure, your insurance policy may also cover a portion of the damage to the landscape including trees, plants, and shrubs.

So even if the tree falls in your yard and doesn’t damage your home, garage, and other such structures of your property, the policy still may cover damage to the shrubs, plants, and other landscape features. Typically, tree damages are covered if the tree has fallen due to hail, storms, ice, or fire caused by lightning or other such apocalyptic events. However, tree damage isn’t covered by the insurance company if the tree falls due to an earthquake, flooding, aging, or rotting.

  1. Tree removal may not be covered – Tree removal is usually not covered by insurance companies if the tree falls on your yard instead of a covered structure. However, it is covered by the insurance when the tree falls due to a covered peril on your garage, house, fence, or other such covered structure and blocks an access point like the driveway, walkway, or a handicap-accessible ramp.

If the tree falls on your garden and doesn’t damage the home or other covered structures, you may decide to just remove the tree. It’s highly likely that insurance wouldn’t cover tree removal in such cases. Moreover, removing trees pre-emptively in such cases can also lead to other negative consequences. For instance, if the person removing the fallen tree from your property gets injured at your premises, you may be held legally responsible.

Moreover, there’s usually a certain dollar cap even if tree removal is covered. The reimbursed amount, in this case, may be limited to less than $1000. Check your insurance policy or ask your agent about these details to figure out the exact amount you may get for tree removal. This gives you a rough budget when you scout tree removal contractors.

  1. Someone else’s tree damages your property – A regular homeowners insurance policy will cover tree damage on your property irrespective of the owner of the tree. In certain cases, your insurance company may go through the process of subrogation and collect the money from the neighbor’s home insurance company. However, there are some unique and tricky situations.

For instance, your neighbor’s tree may fall and encroach on your property but doesn’t damage any covered structure. In such cases, you may or may not have the right to cut down the tree. The decision-making power in this case usually rests on the property owner that has the tree trunk in his yard. On the other hand, the right to cut down the tree is dictated by the regulations set by the HOA and other local authorities.

If there is a dispute between you and your neighbor, the local HOA will get involved and the seeds of war may spread as far as the community Facebook page. On the other hand, if your tree falls on your neighbor’s property you and your insurance company may have to cover the damage.

  1. Insurance payout – The payout for tree damage can vary dramatically depending on the covered peril, type of structure that has been damaged, and other such factors. If there is property damage, you may receive as much as the dwelling coverage limit allows. If your personal belongings get damaged, you can also file a claim up to certain limits.

Personal belongings are usually divided into many categories and each of them has coverage limits. High-value items are usually not covered unless they are added to the scheduled personal property insurance. You can check the limits on your policy and get them increased as well. However, doing so will also raise your insurance premium.

Also, check your insurance policy for Replacement Cost Value or Actual Cash Value for personal belongings. You can also file a claim to replace the tree if it was valuable. The insurance policies that cover the tree usually have higher premiums and have certain coverage caps. The best policies even include hotel expenses up to a certain limit till your home is repaired.

  1. Preventing tree damage – No one wishes for a tree to fall on their home unless they are trying to commit an insurance scam. While certain natural events are out of your control, a dead tree or a rotting tree can be prevented from falling on your home with precautionary measures. Your insurance company doesn’t cover tree damage in such cases and if the tree falls on your neighbor’s property, they may even sue you for damages.

To prevent tree damage, make sure to regularly trim trees on your property. Check for dying trees. Hollow trunks and lack of leaves throughout the year are a dead giveaway. Hire a tree service company to safely get rid of that tree as soon as possible. If you see holes, cracks, and mushrooms on the tree trunk, the tree may be rotting from the inside and may need professional help.

Conclusion

When a tree falls on your property it can inflict significant damage. In the best case, it’s just property damage and in the worst case, it’s the loss of lives. Fortunately, in most cases, a certain part of the financial loss is covered by homeowners’ insurance. In some cases, even tree removal is included. All you need to do is search for “tree service near me” and hire professionals for the job.

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