Standard homeowners insurance can cover damage a fallen tree does to your property, including your house, fence, driveway or even your neighbor's car, as well as removal of the tree and its debris. This article will cover:
In this article
Does home insurance cover tree damage?
Home insurance will pay for repairs and replacement to the structure and contents of your home by tree damage due to covered perils up to your policy limits. If a tree from a neighbor's yard or public property falls on your property, your home insurance policy can still cover the damage.
That said, what caused the tree to fall and damage your house or property impacts whether or not your homeowners policy covers it. Your home insurance policy will typically cover damages if a tree falls due to a windstorm, hail, snow or lightning.
When is tree damage not covered by homeowners insurance?
Damage due to poor maintenance, negligence, floods and earthquakes is excluded from coverage. If your tree falls and hits a power line on your property, you'll most likely be responsible for the damage. If the power line is off your property, most utility companies will take care of the damage. Also, a tree falling on the street would generally not be covered unless it blocked your driveway.
Your comprehensive auto insurance will cover damages if a tree falls on your car. Your homeowners insurance covers another person's car only if a tree on your property damages it.
Does home insurance cover fallen tree removal?
If tree removal is covered, it is often up to a set limit that is different from your dwelling coverage limit. The removal of fallen tree debris is only covered if the cause of the tree falling is a covered peril in your home insurance policy. These perils often include fire, lightning, wind and ice.
After that, the coverage of tree removal comes down to how it affects your home. Many home insurance policies pay for tree removal if the fallen tree creates a blockage, such as if a driveway or a doorway is blocked. If the tree lands on your lawn or empty space, your insurance company won't cover the tree removal.
Home insurance policies usually have a set limit for tree removal per claim. This limit is often between $500 and $1,000 per claim. Check your policy to see what your particular limit is. You should also know that home insurance only covers tree removal after it has fallen. If your tree looks like it's about to drop, its removal is considered part of your responsibility as a homeowner.
How much tree damage will my homeowners policy cover?
If a tree falls on your home, how much your home insurance will cover depends on your coverage limits and deductible. Let's say you purchased $200,000 of dwelling coverage. Your home sustains $20,000 in tree damage, and your deductible is $1,000. You'll pay $1,000 before your homeowners policy kicks in and covers the remaining $19,000. If a tree falls on a structure on your property other than your home, most insurers will only cover you up to 10% of your overall dwelling coverage limit.
But it's not as simple as a tree damaging your home and your insurer giving you $19,000. There are limitations based on the type of homeowners coverage you buy — replacement cost or actual cash value (ACV):
Replacement cost: what it would cost to replace damaged structures or items to their original condition.
Actual cash value: what it would cost to replace damaged structures or items, minus depreciation.
When an adjuster comes to determine the cost of damage, they will consider whether you have a replacement cost or ACV policy. They'll then calculate that into the reimbursement check.
How to file a claim for tree damage to your home
If a tree damages your home, you can contact your insurance company and follow the following steps:
- Review your coverage: you'll want to read over your policy before filing a claim. You should review how much coverage you have and what perils are excluded.
- File a claim: after you've looked over your coverage, you can file a home insurance claim for tree damage. Make sure to take photos of the damage for evidence to send to your insurance company. Your insurer will inspect the damage and assess how much the repairs will cost. They will then reimburse you based on their inspection, as well as how much coverage you have and your policy limits.
Should I file a claim for tree damage?
You should assess the damage after the tree hits your property and determine how bad the damage is. If you can afford it, you can pay for the repairs out of pocket if the cost isn't significantly higher than your deductible. A claim may stay on your insurance record for up to seven years and can affect your rates throughout that period.
How to prevent trees from falling
You can limit the amount of damage to your home from a falling tree by taking a few preventative measures:
- If you suspect any issues, hire an arborist who can check the overall health of your trees.
- After any storm, you should access your trees for damages. You should look out for trees that are leaning and have broken branches.
- If you're looking to plant any tree in your yard, you should think about placing the trees far from your house.
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