You are sitting in your home and you hear a crash on your roof. You go outside and see your neighbor’s tree on top of your house. Many things are running through your mind, but remember, safety first, stay a good distance away.
Your neighbor calls a tree service and gets estimates to remove the tree. Who pays for the removal of the tree? Who pays for the damages to your house? Oh no! This is not as simple as it seems, or is it?
The answer to the above questions depends on why the tree fell and is that “why” considered a “covered peril” on your insurance policy. A “peril” is the cause of the loss.
Let us say the tree fell because of a sudden strong wind, or wind from a storm. Then the cause of the loss (the damage to your home) would be covered by your insurance (minus any deductible), as wind is covered as a peril on a home insurance policy. If the tree was struck by lightning, then it would also be covered by your insurance policy, as lightning is also a peril which is covered.
Why doesn’t my neighbor have to pay for it? It was their tree! Because the neighbor was in no way neglectful and did not cause the tree to fall. This is a situation where the tree falling is just something that happened. It really is not anyone’s fault. Remember, you are responsible for any part of the tree on your property. Your neighbor is only responsible for the part of the tree on their property.
So, with wind or lightning, your insurance should cover the damage to your home, and it may help pay for the cost of removing the tree from your property (you may want to check your coverage). You will be required to pay your deductible.
What if the tree was dead or dying and it fell? Then you may have a situation where the neighbor may be at fault (neglect) and would be responsible for the costs. A dead tree is neglectful and is not considered a covered peril on any insurance policy. You must be able to prove the neighbor knew the tree was dead or dying. It may seem obvious to you, but proving neglect is not quite as simple as we think. If this is the case, call your local insurance agent and seek their advice.
What if My Tree Falls on My Car? Will my homeowner’s policy pay for it because it was caused by a covered peril?
No. Auto Insurance covers your car and specifically this would fall under your comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage typically covers “falling objects.” If you do not have comprehensive coverage on your car and any tree falls on it, you will be responsible for the damages to the car, but your homeowner’s insurance may cover some of the clean-up from the tree in your yard, check your coverages.
Are you confused? Feel free to review your coverages, call us or your local agent and ask questions regarding your policies.