Whether your homeowner’s insurance policy includes coverage for fallen trees typically depends on a number of factors, such as what caused the tree to fall and what kind of damage resulted. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about trees and insurance.
Q: DOES HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE COVER DAMAGE CAUSED BY FALLEN TREES ON MY PROPERTY?
A: The answer to this question is, “It depends.” A homeowners insurance policy typically protects your home and other structures, such as a fence or shed, against specific causes of loss, known as perils. Covered perils typically include damage caused by wind. So, the situation that caused the tree to fall is important. If the tree was otherwise healthy and damaged your home because of wind, a typical homeowners insurance policy may help pay to repair damage to your home or other structure on your property, the Insurance Information Institute (III) says.
However, homeowners insurance usually won’t cover loss or damage caused by negligence or a maintenance-related issue. So, if the tree was rotting and ready to fall down before the storm, homeowners insurance likely would not cover the damage the tree caused to your home.
Q: WHAT IF THE TREE DOESN’T DAMAGE ANYTHING?
A: If a tree falls down and causes no structural damage, meaning your house doesn’t need any repairs, your homeowner’s insurance policy typically will not cover tree debris removal, according to the III. However, sometimes insurance companies may help cover the cost of removal if the fallen tree becomes an obstacle for drivers like blocking a driveway.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS IF THE TREE WAS ON MY NEIGHBOR’S PROPERTY?
A: If your home is damaged by your neighbor’s tree, homeowners insurance may help pay to repair the damage to your house (or other structure, if the tree falls on your fence, for example).
Q: AM I RESPONSIBLE IF A TREE FROM MY PROPERTY DAMAGES MY NEIGHBOR’S PROPERTY?
A: You’re typically only considered responsible if neglect on your part was a contributing factor to the tree’s demise. If not – say a storm knocked your healthy tree onto your neighbor’s house – your neighbor will likely have to file a claim through his or her own insurance.
Q: DOES HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE COVER REMOVAL OF TREE DEBRIS?
A: If the tree damaged your home, a homeowners insurance policy may help cover the cost of repairing your house as well as removing the fallen tree branches, the III says. But if the tree fell without causing damage to a structure on your property, homeowners insurance likely won’t cover the cost of removing the debris, according to the III.
Q: HOW MUCH DOES HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE COVER FOR TREE REMOVAL?
A: If a tree damages an insured structure on your property, home insurance may help cover the cost to remove the tree, typically up to $500 to $1,000, depending on your policy, according to the III.
Q: A TREE FELL ON MY CAR. DOES MY HOMEOWNERS POLICY COVER THE DAMAGE?
A. Your homeowner’s insurance will not cover damage if a tree falls on your car. However, you may be able to file an auto insurance claim if you have comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy. Comprehensive coverage typically helps pay to repair damage to your car caused by falling objects.
Q: HOW MUCH DOES HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE COVER FOR TREE DAMAGE TO THE HOME?
A. The coverage limits you’ve set on your homeowner’s insurance policy determine how much your insurer may pay for tree damage.
A limit is a maximum amount your policy will pay for a covered claim. You’ll likely have separate coverage limits for dwelling coverage and other structures coverage.
Dwelling coverage helps pay to repair the structure of your home if it’s damaged by a covered peril. Other structures coverage helps pay to repair other structures on your property, such as a shed or a fence if they are damaged by a covered peril.
Suppose you set a dwelling coverage limit of $350,000 when you purchased your homeowner’s insurance policy. If a tree damages your home, your policy may help pay up to $350,000 to repair or rebuild your home. Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay your deductible, which is your share of the covered claim. You typically select the deductible amount when you purchase coverage.
The Pfarr Insurance Agency has extremely knowledgeable staff members and we are more than happy to help answer any questions you may have.