We may not ever know if the proverbial tree makes a sound when it falls in the quiet of a dense forest. We do know, however, that the sound of a tree falling in a crowded neighborhood can reverberate for weeks and even months if damage is caused to homes, cars or other property. When uprooted trees cause extensive damage, who is held responsible from an insurance perspective?
When a storm kicks up and trees begin to topple, the immediate question that rushes to a worried homeowner’s minds is, “Am I covered?” and “Who has to pay for this?”
As a local agency, we talk to many homeowners who are worried about who is responsible according to insurance laws. Given the vast number of wind storms, Nor’ Easters, hurricanes, and winter storms, it is no wonder that this topic is one we hear again and again in our region of Massachusetts.
When a Tree Damages Your Property?
If your tree or your neighbor’s tree falls and damages your home, your standard home insurance policy generally covers the damage caused by the tree to the structure and contents within the structure. This would include a detached (insured) garage as well as the main structure of the home.
While in most cases the damage would be covered by your homeowner’s policy, there are some exceptions. For instance, if the neighbor’s tree was in poor health or not well maintained, your insurance company may look to get reimbursed by the neighbor’s insurance policy. This is hard to prove however, and would also take some mediation between parties.
When a Tree Damages My Car?
In this situation where a tree has fallen for a number of reasons, whether it is a wind storm, snow storm, or random act of nature, your car damage would be dealt with through your car insurance policy. The comprehensive coverage part of your auto insurance policy should cover all damage to your vehicle. Remember that there is s deductible to consider when repairing a vehicle.
What About Tree Removal?
Damage caused by a tree on a house or car is generally handled by homeowner’s or automobile insurance, but what about the messy removal of all the branches and thick trunk of the tree that remains? This is a tricky question and one that you will need to direct to your agent who can look up the specifics in your policy.
A standard homeowner’s policy generally takes care of the damage caused by a tree falling on a structure but not usually if the tree falls and just lands on the property without causing damage. If the tree hits a structure, there is usually a limited amount of coverage that includes the tree removal but if it does not actually hit anything on its way down, it is generally not covered.
What About Preventative Removal of Older Trees?
It’s smart to consider removing trees that are in poor health, rotting, or starting to drop branches during storms, but insurance does not usually cover this preventative maintenance. Removing trees is not cheap but it may be worth its weight in gold to avoid the hassle of damaged property and the clean up that will ensue after the tree has fallen.
Do you have questions about tree damage in your yard? Talk to one of our agents about what may or may not be covered according to the specific of your policy.