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Trees provide shade and privacy to your home and can increase the property’s curb appeal. But they can also pose a threat to your home, especially during storms and hazardous conditions.
If a fallen tree damages your home, it may be covered under your homeowners insurance policy, but it’ll depend on what caused the damage in the first place.
Here’s what you need to know about home insurance and tree damage:
- Does home insurance cover tree damage?
- When does home insurance not cover tree damage?
- How to file an insurance claim for tree damage
Does home insurance cover tree damage?
Most homeowners insurance policies cover damage to your house from a fallen tree. It falls under dwelling coverage, which is the part of your insurance policy that covers the repair or rebuilding of your home if it’s damaged by a covered peril, such as a fire or lightning strike. Depending on your policy, homeowners insurance may also cover debris removal, including the tree itself.
Coverage for a fallen tree generally comes down to what caused the damage. Homeowners policies typically cover damage from the following perils or hazards:
- Falling objects
- Weight of ice, snow, or sleet
- Damage from a motor vehicle or aircraft
While damage from a tree is often covered, it can also depend on the specific circumstances surrounding the event, including whether the tree was on your property or not. If the tree fell from another property, your insurance provider may handle your claim differently.
Your home insurance policy should cover at least some of the costs for tree damage in the following scenarios:
- A tree on your property falls on your home: Damage from a tree on your property is typically covered as long as the damage occurred from a covered peril.
- A tree on your property falls on your neighbor’s home: Your neighbor’s insurance carrier is typically responsible for covering damages if it occurs from a covered peril. You could be responsible, though, depending on why the tree fell, especially if it was negligence on your part.
- A tree on your neighbor’s property falls on your home: Your insurer should cover damages to your home from covered perils even if the tree wasn’t on your property. Sometimes, they may try to collect damages from your neighbor’s insurance provider.
- Tree removal costs: Your policy may cover a portion of tree removal costs if an eligible peril caused the tree to fall on your home or driveway. However, any costs associated with removing a dead (but not fallen) tree are entirely your responsibility.
Tree damage coverage limits
If a fallen tree damages your home, you’re probably wondering how much of the cost your insurance provider covers. Coverage depends on the limits you set on your homeowners policy.
For example, if you set a dwelling coverage limit of $200,000, your insurance carrier may help pay up to $200,000 of the repair or rebuilding costs, minus your deductible. The deductible is your share of the cost, which you set when you purchase an insurance policy.
As mentioned, your policy may cover tree removal, too. If so, insurers generally cover costs of up to $500 to $1,000, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Insurance policies vary between insurance providers. Check with your insurance carrier for specific details on your coverage limits.
When does home insurance not cover tree damage?
You might encounter a few scenarios where damage from a fallen tree isn’t covered under a standard homeowners insurance policy, such as:
- Floods: Standard homeowners policies generally don’t cover damage to your home from a flood. Many insurance carriers offer separate flood insurance policies that provide coverage from flood damage, or you can purchase one through the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Earthquakes: Similar to flooding, damage from earthquakes is typically excluded from standard homeowners insurance policies. Earthquake insurance may be available from your insurance provider at an extra cost.
- Owner negligence: As a homeowner, you’re responsible for the upkeep of your property, including any landscaping like trees or shrubs. A dead or diseased tree is a safety hazard and could cause significant damage if not removed in a safe and timely manner. Insurance policies generally don’t cover damage caused by a diseased tree.
Learn More: Does Home Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?
How to file an insurance claim for tree damage
Pay attention to your deductible whenever you’re filing a home insurance claim. Since you’re responsible for this out-of-pocket expense, it may not always be cost-effective to file a claim when a tree falls on your property, especially if there was little to no damage. Homeowners insurance deductibles typically range from $500 to $2,000. Tree removal can cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000, depending on the size of the tree and where you live, according to HomeAdvisor.
The process to file a home insurance claim for tree damage will vary depending on your insurance carrier, but generally you’ll take the following steps:
- Contact your insurance provider. Call your insurer and inform them of the incident. Have your policy number handy when filing a claim. The insurance agent will direct you to specific steps to file a claim and determine whether your policy covers the damage. You can also ask questions about your coverage, such as your deductible and limits, or share pertinent information, including your contact information and whether you had to relocate due to the damage.
- Fill out and submit claim forms. Your insurance carrier will provide you with the necessary claims forms to complete. Fill them out completely, making note of any submission deadlines. You’ll typically file a claim online or over the phone, though some providers may let you file a claim through their mobile app too.
- Make temporary repairs. Take necessary steps to secure your property or make temporary repairs to prevent further damage as long as they can be completed safely.
- Provide documentation. Having the right information on hand will help the claims process run more smoothly. Make a note of the time and date of the incident, take photos of the damage, and compile an inventory of damaged items, providing receipts whenever possible. If the fallen tree was from a neighbor’s property, gather their contact information and insurance details.
Once you’ve filed your claim, your insurance provider will review it and send an insurance adjuster to assess the damage. After that, the insurer will provide an estimate of repair and send you payment for the estimated amount.
You can generally use any contractor you want to complete the repairs. If the cost exceeds the estimated amount, you may receive another payment from your insurance carrier.
Contact your insurance provider for specific instructions on filing a claim if you’re unsure about the process.
Disclaimer: All insurance-related services are offered through Young Alfred.