Does homeowners insurance cover tree damage?
With major storms becoming more and more common, homeowners will be dealing with property damage from trees. Figuring out insurance for this type of damage can seem complicated, so we want to help simplify it.
We’ll answer some of the most common questions regarding tree damage, so you’ll know whose homeowners insurance covers tree damage when a neighbor is involved, what to do if your car is damaged, and who is responsible for debris removal.
If my neighbor’s tree falls on my house, who’s liable?
This is something important to consider as a new homeowner. Generally, if a tree damages your house, your insurance will pay the claim regardless of who the tree belonged to. So, if lightning strikes your neighbor’s 100-year-old oak and it falls onto your house, you’ll use your insurance.
Alternatively, if a wind storm causes a limb from your tree to fall onto your neighbor’s roof, causing significant damage, they’ll need to file a claim with their home insurer.
While that’s typically the way it goes, if your neighbor has a rotting tree and you can prove that they knew about it and refused to do anything to remedy the situation, they may be responsible for the damage their dying tree does to your home.
What if a tree or limb lands on my car?
Your home insurance policy doesn’t cover your car. However, it may be covered by your car insurance policy if you carry the right kind of coverage. Comprehensive coverage will pay for storm-related damage to your car. In addition, you may get discounts on home and auto insurance if you bundle policies from the same carrier.
You’ll be responsible for your deductible amount, but your insurer will cover the rest of the cost to repair the damage.
Will my homeowners insurance pay for debris removal?
If a tree fell and damaged a structure on its way down, your home insurance will pay for removing the debris up to a limit, usually $1,000.
If your tree fell and didn’t damage a structure covered by your policy, your insurance won’t usually pay to remove the tree. You may be able to purchase a rider that covers tree removal, but if you already have a fallen tree in your yard, it’s too late for that.
What should I do if a tree damages my house?
Having a list can keep you from forgetting stuff, so write these steps down. Even though you likely won’t have a chance to read your list, simply writing the steps will help you remember them when you need to.
If a tree falls on your home, here are the steps you can take.
Step #1 – Evacuate
The first thing you need to do is make sure you’re safe. You should evacuate until you know it’s safe because of the risk of damage to wiring and structure. You may need to turn the electricity and water off to your house to prevent fires or flooding.
Step #2 – Call 911
Once you’re safe, you should call 911 so that emergency services can inspect your home for danger. Then, depending on what they say, you’ll have a better idea of whether it’s safe to go back inside.
Step #3 – File a Claim
You’ll need to file a claim with your insurance company. Most people choose to file their claims online, but you also have the option to send paperwork back and forth. They will likely send an adjuster to your house, and you will need to send them estimates and receipts.
Step #4 – Fix Your House
Getting estimates from several contractors with scheduling estimates can help you decide which one to go with. Make sure you also check their reviews online and ask friends and family if they have any recommendations. Those recommendations demonstrate that the contractor has worked to retain customers and keep them satisfied.
A tree falling on your house is a covered event if you have home insurance, so even though it’s not something you want to happen, you can rest assured that you won’t be on your own if it does.
Melanie Musson writes and researches for the insurance comparison site, TheTruthAboutInsurance.com. She strives to help others understand how they can improve their lives by properly protecting their assets with insurance.
Categories: Outside Contributors