Homeowners’ Insurance and “The Tree”
A story, or lesson if you will, in homeowners insurance is often told about “The Tree”. Now the tree can be anywhere on anyone’s property and it may be small or mighty. It may be a willow, an oak or an elm. But as the story goes, the tree falls and damages a building or a home.
The mystery is, who is responsible for the damage?
The general answer is rather simple. You are responsible for whatever may fall into your yard. If winds should cause a neighbors tree to fall into and cause damage to your property, your homeowners’ insurance likely will help cover the cost of not only the damage, but of removing the tree. This is particularly true when the tree is healthy and is toppled by high winds during a storm. This is known as an act of nature. But like most stories, there can be more to this story too.
There are a couple of examples of when the tree’s owner would be responsible. One such example is if the homeowner is trying to trim or cut down the tree himself without professional assistance. In this case, the tree owner would be held responsible for the damage. Another example of when the tree’s owner could be held responsible is if the tree was diseased, dead or dying when it fell and caused the damage. In this case, if the tree owner knew the tree was diseased and was potentially hazardous, the damage would be the responsibility of the tree owner. Like any maintenance on a home or property, a homeowner has a responsibility to remove unstable trees from their property before they cause damage.
A couple of footnotes to this story. A property owner who sustained damage to their property from a neighbors tree could potentially sue the neighbor for the amount of the deductible they had to pay. Also, never try to touch or remove a fallen tree that is touching power lines. Trees that have fallen in the road are the responsibility of the municipality in which they fell. Finally, be extremely cautious about removing limbs from a felled tree. These limbs may be carrying weight of the tree and can cause serious injuries when not carefully and thoughtfully removed.
If you have questions about your homeowners’ insurance or can’t quite recall the last time you got a competitive quote, contact us. Our independent agents can compare the rates from multiple companies for you. It’s a great way to save money and gain more peace of mind.