Trees And Insurance
Does my insurance cover damage from falling trees?
A homeowners insurance policy covers two types of damage associated with trees: damage to your insured property (casualty damage) and damage for which you are responsible (liability).
For example, if a tree in your yard fell onto the roof of your home, your homeowners insurance policy would pay to repair the damage and remove the tree.
What if my neighbor’s tree falls on my house?
It doesn’t matter who owns the tree. If there is damage to your property, your insurance policy would cover the loss. However, if the tree that toppled over was diseased or tilting severely and should have been removed or trimmed before the damage occurred, the neighbor could be held liable. Your insurance company will generally pay for your damage and then try to recover the money they paid from the neighbor who owned the tree.
What happens if a tree falls in my yard but does not hit anything?
Homeowners insurance policies cover real property. If nothing that was insured was damaged, there is no coverage. That means removing the tree would be done at your expense. This is why homeowners are encouraged to inspect the trees surrounding their homes to be sure they are properly maintained and are healthy enough to stand up to high winds. If a hurricane strikes and many trees are damaged, it may take a while before a crew could reach you – and when the demand is high and resources are limited, the costs of services such as tree removal are often higher.
If the tree hits my shed or fence, is it covered by insurance?
Yes, and you should review the Other Structures section of your homeowners insurance policy to learn what the policy limits are for this coverage. Repairs to a shed or fence are covered up to the policy limit, but if the repairs and cost of getting the tree off the damaged structure exceed the limits, there is typically additional coverage available for removing the debris, usually with a 5 percent cap. For example, if you have $10,000 in coverage for Other Structures, your insurer will pay a maximum of $10,500 for repairs and tree removal.
Why won’t my insurance pay to remove a damaged tree that is leaning toward my home?
There is no coverage if the tree has not damaged insured property. An insurance policy covers damage, not the threat of damage. A homeowner insurance policy is not a home maintenance policy. Learning to recognize tree hazards
will prevent damage from worsening and could protect your landscaping.
Is there another way to cover my expenses from tree removal if my insurance doesn’t cover it?
Typically, losses not covered by insurance or other means can be deducted as a casualty loss on an individual’s federal income taxes. Talk to your tax professional or review IRS publications on calculating casualty losses. The IRS defines a casualty loss as an “identifiable event that is sudden, unexpected, or unusual.”