Q

Does homeowners insurance cover tree removal?

A

The cost of tree removal is sometimes covered by homeowners insurance, like if a storm causes it to collapse onto your home or fence, but there are other times when fallen tree removal isn’t covered.

Pat Howard 1600Kara McGinley

By

Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is a senior editor at Policygenius specializing in property and casualty insurance. His work has been featured on Property Casualty 360, Fatherly, MarketWatch, and more.

&

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an insurance editor at Policygenius, specializing in home, auto, and renters insurance. She's been writing about insurance since 2019, and her work and insights have been referenced in Kiplinger and WRAL.com.

Updated August 26, 2021|3 min read

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Homeowners insurance will cover the cost of tree removal depending on how the tree fell and where it fell. If the tree fell due to wind, hail, or a buildup of snow or ice, and it landed on an insured structure, home insurance can pay for its removal. But if the tree lands innocently on your lawn without damaging anything, your insurer probably won’t cover its removal. 

Key Takeaways

  • Homeowners insurance can help cover the cost of debris removal, including removal of fallen trees

  • If a tree falls due to wind, hail, or the weight of snow or ice and it falls onto your house, shed, or another insured structure on your property, you’d be reimbursed for its removal

  • If your tree falls due to wind, hail, or the weight of snow or ice but it simply lands in your yard, you likely wouldn’t be covered for its removal

  • But if the cause of tree collapse is a fire, lightning, explosion, or vandalism, home insurance will pay for its removal, regardless of where it lands

Does homeowners insurance cover tree removal after a storm?

If a tree falls on your home or fence due to a covered accident, like a bad storm, home insurance can help pay for tree removal. It will also cover repairs for the damage to your home and your personal belongings if they were damaged by the tree as well. 

Cause of tree fallingWhere the tree fellIs tree removal covered?
Wind, hail, snow or iceOn the house, garage, or fenceYes
Wind, hail, snow or iceOn lawn or empty spaceNo
Fire, lightning, other covered perilsOn the house, garage, or fenceYes
Fire, lightning, other covered perilsOn lawn or empty spaceYes
Flood, earthquake, wood rot, ageOn house, garage, lawn, or empty spaceNo

If a tree falls due to fire, lightning strike, or any other covered peril besides wind, hail, or the weight of snow or ice, then homeowners insurance may help cover removal fees regardless of where the tree falls on your property.

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What if the neighbor's tree fell on my house?

You also may be covered if your neighbor’s tree topples over onto your home, as long as it fell due to a covered peril and landed onto an insured structure, like your house, garage, or fence. If a windstorm or the sheer weight of snow or ice causes your neighbor's tree to fall down onto your house, for instance, your insurer will typically pay for the tree’s removal.

If your insurance company determined your neighbor’s tree fell because it was diseased or dead and rotting, you may not be covered by your insurance, but you may be able to file a liability claim with your neighbor’s insurer. If it is proven that your neighbor knew about the dead tree and it fell because of their negligence, you may get a payout from your neighbor’s insurance company.

However, negligence is difficult to prove with something like fallen trees. If your liability claim is denied, your other option would be to talk with your neighbor and see if they’d be willing to pay for or split the cost of the tree’s removal.

When isn’t tree removal covered by homeowners insurance?

If a tree on your property fell because of any other reason besides the ones listed above, you may not be covered.

Earthquakes or flooding

Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood, earthquake, or mudslide damage to your home, and it also won’t pay to remove any trees that fall during those natural disasters. 

Rot, age, or pest infestation

If a tree falls due to rot, fungi growth, or old age homeowners insurance won’t cover removal costs. If a pest, like lanternflies or termites, kills your trees, home insurance also won’t pay to treat or remove them. 

If the tree falls on your yard or an empty space due to wind, hail, snow or ice

If a tree falls because of wind, hail, or the weight of snow or ice, insurance will only cover the removal if it lands on a covered structure on your property or blocks your driveway. That means if a windstorm knocks your tree over and it lands on your lawn, backyard, or garden, you likely won’t be covered for removal services. 

If you simply want it removed

If you want to remove a tree from your property because it’s diseased or for aesthetic reasons, you’ll have to foot the removal costs yourself. 

How much will homeowners insurance pay for fallen tree removal?

According to the debris removal provision in a standard homeowners insurance policy, your insurance company will pay up to $1,000 total for tree removal, but no more than $500 for any one tree. Some insurance companies may offer higher debris removal coverage limits.

If the tree damages your home and personal belongings inside, you’ll be reimbursed for repairs and new items via your policy’s dwelling and personal property coverages, up to their respected coverage limits.

Homeowners insurance also includes additional protection for trees, shrubs, and other plants and will generally pay up to 5% of your policy’s dwelling coverage to replace landscaping that was damaged or destroyed by a covered loss in your policy. That means if your dwelling limit is $300,000, your insurer will pay up to $15,000 for any plant-related losses. Similar to the debris removal provision, your insurer won’t pay more than $500 for any one tree, shrub, or plant.

How to prevent fallen tree damage

There are a number of ways you can limit the incidence of fallen trees and branches and reduce the potential hazards they pose. Below are a few options: 

  • Prune, or cut branches off of a tree that appears dead

  • Contact a local arborist to come by for an inspection if the entire tree appears to be dead, or you have reason to suspect a termite or pest problem on your property.

  • If a neighbor has a rotted and potentially hazardous tree, talk to them about potentially removing it from their property.

Frequently asked questions

Does homeowners insurance cover preventative tree removal?

No, homeowners insurance will only pay for tree removal services if a tree falls due to a covered peril, like a windstorm, and lands on your house, fence, or garage. If a tree is diseased and rotting, you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket to remove it. If a tree is overgrown and too close to your home for comfort, it’s still on you as the homeowner to take care of it.

Who is responsible for tree root damage?

Homeowners insurance is designed to protect you against sudden, unpreventable accidents, like bad weather or a burst pipe. Tree roots can take years to grow, meaning their damage to your home is gradual and occurs over a lengthy amount of time. For that reason, your insurance likely won’t cover the cost of tree root damage to your home’s foundation. If you believe roots are cracking your foundation or burrowing under your driveway, contact your local arborist for assistance.

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