Q

Does homeowners insurance cover fallen trees

A

Fallen tree damage and removal may be covered by homeowners insurance if the tree falls onto a covered structure, like your home or garage, but you may not be reimbursed for tree removal if it only falls onto your lawn.

Stephanie Nieves author photo

By

Stephanie Nieves

Stephanie Nieves

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in home and auto insurance. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.

Published September 14, 2020|4 min read

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Homeowners insurance protects your home and personal belongings from the unexpected, including fallen tree damage after a bad storm.

Fallen tree damage and removal is generally covered if the tree landed on a covered structure and fell because of a covered peril, like heavy winds or a lightning strike. But if your insurer can prove that the tree fell due to an exclusion in your policy, like termite damage, the loss may not be covered. If a tree lands on your lawn but doesn’t block your driveway or damage a covered structure, like your house, garage, or pool, you may not be reimbursed for its removal.

If a tree on your neighbor’s property falls onto your house, you’ll typically need to file a homeowners insurance claim with your own insurance company to cover both the tree’s removal and repairs to your home. But your insurance company may attempt to collect the claim payout from your neighbor’s insurer in a process called subrogation, in which case you may be reimbursed for your deductible, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Key Takeaways

  • Homeowners insurance covers fallen tree damage and removal if it lands on a covered structure, like the roof of your home, if it fell due to a covered peril like a windstorm or weight of snow or ice

  • If a tree falls onto a section of your property that isn’t covered, like a structure rented to someone who is not a tenant of your home, homeowners insurance wouldn’t reimburse you for damage to that structure nor the tree’s removal

  • If a tree falls from your neighbor’s property onto a covered structure on your property, you’d likely need to file a claim with your own insurance company

  • A standard policy will typically pay up to $1,000 for tree removal, but not more than $500 for any one tree

Does homeowners insurance cover fallen tree damage?

Here’s a quick look at fallen tree scenarios where you’re sometimes covered, and sometimes not covered, by homeowners insurance:

CAUSE OF TREE FALLINGWHERE TREE FELLWILL HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE COVER IT?
Wind, lightning, or hailOn your houseYes
Wind, lightning, or hailOn your lawn, or in an empty spaceNo
Wind, lightning, or hailIn your drivewayYes
Weight of ice, snow, or sleetOn your houseYes
Weight of ice, snow, or sleetOn your lawn, or in an empty spaceNo
Weight of ice, snow, or sleetIn your drivewayYes
Rot, age, or neglectOn your house, lawn, driveway, or in an empty spaceNo
Flood, earthquake, or mudslideOn your house, lawn, driveway, or in an empty spaceNo

Does homeowners insurance cover fallen tree removal?

Homeowners insurance also typically covers tree removal if it lands on an insured structure and fell because of a covered peril, like wind or weight of ice or snow. A standard policy generally covers up to $1,000 in tree removal, but no more than $500 for the removal of any one tree.

Does it matter who owns the tree?

If a tree lands on your home, homeowners insurance generally covers its removal and repairs regardless of where it fell from.

For example, if a tree on your neighbor’s property falls onto your fence or another covered structure on your property, you’d file a claim with your insurance to cover the damage. If the fallen tree was dead or rotting and you can prove that your neighbor knew about the dead tree and it fell because of their negligence, then your insurance company may reach out to their insurer to collect a claim reimbursement. Your insurer may also try to reach out to your neighbor’s insurance company to collect the claim payout regardless of how the tree fell, in a process called subrogation. If the subrogation process is successful, you may be reimbursed for your policy deductible.

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When doesn’t homeowners insurance cover fallen trees?

Your insurance company typically won’t pay to remove a fallen tree from your property unless it lands on a covered structure, like your home, roof, or shed. If the tree simply falls in your backyard and doesn’t damage any of your property, your insurance probably wouldn’t cover any damage to your landscaping or the tree’s removal.

Homeowners insurance also won’t cover a fallen tree if the cause of the fall isn’t a covered peril in your policy. Here are some instances when you may not be covered:

If the tree was dead or diseased

If the tree is old, rotted, or poorly maintained, then your insurance wouldn’t cover any property damage or the tree’s removal.

Flood and earthquake damage

Your insurance also won’t cover tree removal or property loss if a flood, earthquake, or mudslide caused the tree to fall onto your house. The aforementioned catastrophes are not covered in a standard homeowners insurance policy, but supplemental coverage may be available through your carrier.

If the tree fell on your car

Homeowners insurance will never cover repairs to your car, even if it was damaged by a covered peril. Luckily, that’s what auto insurance is for. A fallen tree that lands on your car would be covered by comprehensive coverage which is not required in every state, but could save you lots of money in the event that a fallen tree or another non-driving peril damages your car.

If the tree fell on a guest house that you're renting out

Guest homes are usually covered by the other structures provision of your home insurance policy. However, your coverage may not extend to guest homes that are being rented out long term or short term through a site like Airbnb.

Many companies offer home-sharing coverage add-ons that allow you to extend coverage to the short-term rental property. If you’re renting out your property for a single occasion — say the World Cup is coming to your city and you want to rent out your guest room — you may be able to extend your coverage (given sufficient advance notice) on a one-time basis, according to the Insurance Information Institute. For long term rentals, you'll need landlord insurance to cover the rental property.

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