Your home is covered by a homeowners insurance policy, but what does that mean, exactly? What about your yard, or things that happen in your yard? In particular, what do most insurance policies offer with regard to tree removal?
In most cases, homeowners insurance policies are designed to cover damages to your home and property. Therefore, the removal a tree that has not yet fallen (and has not inflicted any damage), will not likely be covered. This is true even if the tree is leaning, cracked, or otherwise appears quite ominous. The rule is simply that homeowners are responsible for routine maintenance and repairs, and removal of dead or dying trees falls under that rule.
On the other hand, if the tree does fall on your house, that type of event is almost always covered. The insurance policy will typically pay for removal of the fallen tree, as well as damage to your home. The same rule usually applies if the tree falls on a fence, workshop, or other structures connected to your property – assuming those structures are included in your coverage.
But what if the tree falls in the yard, and does not damage anything? Once again, removal and cleanup are most likely your responsibility. That’s because a covered structure was not damaged by the event.
Occasionally, some insurance policies will cover removal of a tree that has fallen and blocked your driveway. If you’re disabled, your insurance might also cover the removal of a fallen tree that blocks access to a wheelchair ramp. Again, these terms are conditional based upon the exact insurance policy you previously selected, so we can’t guarantee this will always be the case. When in doubt, always call your insurance representative, describe the event and damage, and let them assess your coverage limits.
What your tree falls and damages a neighbor’s home? Their insurance policy will be the one on the hook for damages, but you could be liable for repayment if you had been previously warned that the tree was a hazard.
Finally, if your tree falls into a public roadway, you should call your municipality for advice on your next steps. Local laws govern these events, and will determine whether cleanup is your responsibility or that of the city.
If a tree does fall on your property, or if one appears to be a falling risk, give us a call right away. While you work out the details with your insurance company, we can assess the cost of cutting down the tree or removing debris.