More on Home Insurance
More on Home Insurance
Updated June 30, 2020
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Homeowners insurance protects your home and personal property against perils covered by your policy, including fire, windstorms, and malicious acts like theft and vandalism. A standard policy also covers debris removal, including the removal of fallen trees, as long as the tree fell due to a peril like wind or ice and caused damage to a covered structure, like your house or fence, or blocked access to your home.
That means if a windstorm takes out a tree but it lands innocently on your lawn without damaging anything, your insurer probably won’t cover its removal. But if the tree falls through your home, garage, or blocks your driveway, your insurer will likely reimburse you for its removal and any damage it caused.
Homeowners insurance may cover debris removal, including the removal of fallen trees
If the tree falls onto a covered structure due to wind or weight of snow or ice, you’ll be reimbursed for its removal
If your neighbor’s tree falls onto your home, you’re covered as long as the collapse was caused by a covered peril
|Cause of tree falling||Where tree fell||Is tree removal covered?|
|Windstorm or hail||On the house||Yes|
|Windstorm or hail||On lawn, or empty space||No|
|Weight of ice, snow, or sleet||On the house||Yes|
|Weight of ice, snow, or sleet||On lawn, or empty space||No|
|Rot, age||House, lawn, or empty space||No|
|Flood, earthquake||House, lawn, or empty space||No|
If a windstorm or the sheer weight of snow or ice causes a tree to fall down onto your house, your insurer will typically pay for the tree’s removal.
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 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 their insurance. 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.
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If a tree on your property fell because of wind or hail or weight of snow, ice or sleet, your insurance company will likely pay for its removal. If it fell because of any other reason, you may not be covered.
But if the fallen tree originated on your neighbor’s property, you’re covered against any peril that you’re insured against in the personal property provision in your policy, including fire, lightning, wind, weight of snow or ice, vandalism, and explosions.
However, trees that fall due to rot, age, earthquakes, flooding and mudslides are typically not covered by homeowners insurance. Your insurer also won’t pay for tree removal if it doesn’t damage a covered structure on your property or block your driveway, even if the peril that caused the tree’s collapse is covered in your policy.
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 condition in your policy. 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.
There are a number of ways you can limit the incidence of fallen trees and branches and reduce the potential hazards they pose. One is to simply prune, or cut branches off of a tree that appear dead.
If the entire tree appears to be dead, or you have reason to suspect a termite or pest problem on your property, contact a local arborist to come by for an inspection. Arborists are trained to detect the health of trees, and they’ll indicate which branches, or trees (if any) need to come down. The arborist may also be able to suggest a reputable trimming or tree removal service.
If you discover that your adjacent neighbor has a rotted and potentially hazardous tree, talk to them about potentially removing it from their property.
Pat Howard is a homeowners insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City. He has written extensively about home insurance cost, coverage, and companies since 2018, and his insights have been featured on Investopedia, Lifehacker, MSN, Zola, HerMoney, and Property Casualty 360.
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