Standard homeowners insurance covers 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, of course, depends on the reason for the tree falling. If the tree causes damage covered under the “falling object” portion of your policy, it should be covered.
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 tree removal is covered, it is often up to a set limit that is different from your dwelling coverage limit. Damage due to poor maintenance or negligence is excluded from coverage. This article will include:
- Is tree damage covered by homeowners insurance?
- Does homeowners insurance cover removal of a fallen tree?
- How much tree damage does home insurance cover?
- How to file an insurance claim after tree damage
How does homeowners insurance cover tree damage?
Tree damage is considered a “falling object” when it comes to home insurance perils. If a tree falls on your property, your homeowners policy will take care of it — as long as you have proper coverage limits.
It’s important to know that the tree doesn’t have to be from your yard for you to collect compensation. It can be on a neighbor’s yard, or it can be from public property.
Another important point to make is that if a tree falls on your car, comprehensive auto insurance would cover it. Your homeowners insurance covers another person’s car only if a tree on your property damages it.
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.
That said, what caused the tree to fall and damage your house or property impacts whether or not your homeowners policy covers it. Did the tree fall due to a windstorm, hail, snow or lightning? All of these situations may warrant filing a homeowners claim. However, if the tree fell because of an earthquake or because you were negligent, your home insurance company won’t pay out.
Does home insurance cover fallen tree removal?
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 a tree falls from the street onto your property, call your local municipal government to find out if they will cover the bill for removal. Some towns and cities will pick up the removal bill, but others will leave it to you.
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. Once the deductible is paid, your home insurer will cover you for the remaining $19,000.
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 replacement cost or ACV. They’ll then calculate that into the reimbursement check.
Also, you should know that most home insurance policies of both types place coverage limits on different perils. For example, 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.
Different types of damage warrant different coverage limits. Speak to your insurer about how much coverage you’ll receive for your tree damage.
How to file a claim for tree damage to your home
Now that you know when and how you’re covered, what should you do if a tree falls and damages your property? Here is a list of steps for you to follow:
- Assess the damage: after the tree hits your property, determine how bad the damage is. If you can afford it, 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. On average, you can expect a 9% increase to your home insurance rate after your first claim. Calculate that increase spread over five to seven years, then consider if the claim is worth it.
- Review your coverage: you’ll want to read over your policy before filing a claim. How much coverage do you have? Much like filing a claim for damages less than your deductible, making a claim on excluded damage will not only be immediately denied, but could also lead to higher premiums.
- 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.
What if you’re not happy with the compensation you receive? Or what if your carrier hikes your homeowners insurance rates after filing a claim for a fallen tree? Take this as an incentive to shop around for better rates by requesting home insurance quotes.
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