Does homeowners insurance cover tree removal?

The cost of tree removal is sometimes covered by homeowners insurance, like if a storm causes it to collapse onto your home or fence.

Pat Howard 1600Kara McGinley

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Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is a senior editor and licensed home insurance agent at Policygenius, where he specializes in homeowners insurance. His work and expertise has been featured in MarketWatch, Real Simple, Fox Business, VentureBeat, This Old House, Investopedia, Fatherly, Lifehacker, Better Homes & Garden, Property Casualty 360, and elsewhere.

&Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

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Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®

Certified Financial Planner

Ian Bloom, CFP®, RLP®, is a certified financial planner and a member of the Financial Review Council at Policygenius. Previously, he was a financial advisor at MetLife and MassMutual.

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Homeowners insurance will cover the cost of tree removal depending on how and where the tree 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 may pay for its removal. But if the tree lands 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 likely 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.

  • If the cause of tree collapse is a fire, lightning, explosion, or vandalism, home insurance may pay for its removal — regardless of where it lands.

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When does homeowners insurance cover tree removal?

If a tree falls on your home or fence due to a covered accident, like a bad storm, home insurance may help pay for tree removal.

Below are instances when home insurance will and won’t cover tree removal.

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 and ice, then homeowners insurance may help cover removal fees regardless of where the tree falls on your property. 

If the fallen tree results in damage to your property, home insurance may help pay to repair or rebuild it.

Homeowners insurance may also cover repairs for the damage to your home and your personal belongings if they were damaged by the tree. If a tree lands on your home and causes extensive damage, the loss of use portion of your homeowners insurance can help pay for additional living expenses — like a hotel stay — while your home is being repaired. 

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.

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.

How much will homeowners insurance pay for tree removal?

A standard homeowners policy will pay up to $1,000 total for tree removal, but no more than $500 for any one tree. But some insurance companies may offer higher debris removal coverage limits — check with your insurer to see if you can add or increase debris removal coverage.

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.

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When doesn’t homeowners insurance cover tree removal?

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 the tree falls on a guest house you're renting out

Guest homes are usually covered by the other structures section of your home insurance policy — unless you're renting it out.

This means if a tree falls on your guest house that you're renting out on a site like Airbnb, you wouldn't be able to file a claim for the damage and tree removal if all you have is a standard home insurance policy.

To be covered, you'd need have a home-sharing coverage endorsement added to your policy for short-term rentals or an entirely separate landlord insurance policy if you're renting out your guest house long term.

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. 

What if a tree falls on my car in my driveway?

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 the comprehensive coverage section of your insurance policy.

However, your home insurance company would likely pay for the removal of the tree if it fell due to a covered peril, since it's preventing the use of your driveway.

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.

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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.