Whose home insurance pays when storms cause trees to fall?

By Beth Orenstein on September 26th, 2011

fallen treeIf a tree falls during a hurricane or storm, will your homeowner insurance pay to remove it and repair the damage it has caused?

Lots of homeowners are probably asking that question these days, given the recent severe weather along the East Coast and in the Gulf region. To be sure, you'll need to check your homeowner insurance policy. In most cases, you only will be covered if the tree caused some damage to your home, whether it's to the roof or your garage or your shed.

You may be reimbursed for the cost of fixing any structures that are outlined in your home insurance policy, minus your deductible. If your tree falls and damages your neighbor's property, your neighbor should file a claim under his or her homeowner insurance. You might be responsible if the tree was dying and your neighbor warned you about it. In that case, the insurance companies can fight it out. His insurance company initially should pay, but may be able to recover the damages from your company afterward.

If your neighbor's tree falls on your property and causes damage, you should file the claim, not your neighbor.

Your home insurance policy may cover tree removal

Some policies also will provide up to $1,000 to remove fallen trees from your property after the storm has passed. Many home insurance policies have a limit of $500 per tree and $1,000 per loss.

If the tree falls on your car and damages it, you may have coverage under your automobile policy rather than your homeowner insurance. The damages would be recovered under the comprehensive portion of your policy, which pays for damages that are not caused by automobile accidents.

Work with your home insurance agent

Call your insurance agent as soon as you discover you have a claim. If you can, document the damage the trees have caused and give your photos and videos to your claims adjuster. Even photos showing what the trees looked like before the storm blew through may be helpful. If you have any questions, call your agent.

Beth Orenstein

Beth Orenstein is a freelance writer.

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