When Trees Fall, Who Pays?

when a tree falls who pays

You might not think about homeowners insurance coverage for tree damage – until it happens.  For many homeowners, it’s a surprise to learn that not all damage caused by a felled tree is covered by insurance.  

Here’s what you need to know.

What’s Covered?

A standard homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers:

  • Damage caused when a tree hits an insured structure (e.g. home, garage). This often includes a stipend for removal of the downed tree.
  • Reimbursement for trees or shrubs that are damaged due to fire, vandalism, lightning and other disasters (but not typically due to water or wind damage).
  • Fallen trees that obstruct a driveway or handicap-accessible ramp may be covered by your insurance.

Coverage kicks in after your deductible, and is typically capped for tree removal and/or reimbursement.  

If damage is caused to your property by a neighbor’s tree, your homeowner’s insurance will handle the claim. In this case,  your insurer might seek reimbursement from the neighbor’s insurance and your deductible may be refunded.

Fallen tree on the roofWhat’s NOT Covered?

A typical homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover:

  • A downed tree or shrub that does not damage an insured structure.
  • A tree that falls and hits a power line.
  • A tree that causes damage due to homeowner negligence.
    • In this instance, even if the tree hits an insured structure, if the tree was diseased, dying or otherwise neglected homeowner’s insurance will likely not cover the costs of repair to the home or cleanup/replacement of the tree.

What Can You Do?

First, make sure you understand your policy.  Ask you insurance provider about coverage caps for trees and shrubs and limitations on clean up or replacement.

If you have trees that you value, you can seek an additional endorsement on your policy that covers clean up or replacement costs.

Most importantly – take care of your trees!  You will be fully responsible for damage caused by a tree that is dead, declining, rotting or otherwise in need of care.  Regularly inspect your trees and contact a tree expert if you spot any issues.

Have questions about the health of your trees?  Contact us today.