Fallen Trees – Are They Covered?
Mother Nature has really made her presence known in the recent past. The number of severe storms that have come through the Midwest in the past year has been much higher than normal. With these severe storms comes plenty of storm damage; depending on where you live, fallen trees may be the biggest concern with severe storms. The question then becomes, are fallen trees covered by insurance?
Probably the most common answer in insurance is “it depends,” and that is the case with fallen trees as well. There are several factors that will determine whether insurance will kick in.
Let’s first re-visit the overall concept of homeowners insurance. A home insurance policy insures the home’s structure along with any detached structures, your personal property, loss of use of your home after a covered loss, and your liability. A typical home insurance policy does not insure the land the home is built on.
There are a few common scenarios with fallen trees. Let’s take a look at how insurance would apply to each of those.
Scenario 1: A storm comes through and a tree falls damaging the structure of your home.
In this case, the damage to your home would be fully covered subject to your deductible. If the damage causes your home to be uninhabitable, most home insurance policies will pick up the cost for you to stay elsewhere until your home is safe to stay in.
There may be some coverage to remove the tree/debris, however, it typically does not pick up the full cost. The cost above that would fall on the homeowner. Think back to homeowners insurance insuring the structure of the home – a home policy is not designed to insure for land (including trees).
Scenario 2: A storm comes through and a tree falls damaging a fence or shed on your property.
The insurance coverage for this scenario would be similar to scenario 1. You have coverage for detached structures on your property up to a specified dollar amount.
Scenario 3: A storm comes through and a tree falls but does not damage anything.
Unfortunately, there would be no coverage in this scenario. The additional tree/debris removal coverage would not kick in unless there was damage to the structure of the home or personal property. The cost to remove the tree would fall solely on the homeowner.
Scenario 4: A storm comes through and a tree falls damaging a neighbor’s home
Your neighbor’s home insurance would be primary and cover the damage to the home. No matter if the tree is on their property or not, the homeowner with the damage would have to go through their carrier for the claim.
If it was determined there was negligence involved (rotted/overgrown tree that was unkept), once the neighbor’s insurance carrier pays for the claim they could subrogate after your insurance to recoup some of if not all of the amount paid out.
Scenario 5: A storm comes through and a tree falls on your vehicle.
There is coverage if you have comprehensive coverage on the vehicle. Repairs or payout for the totaled car would be subject to your deductible.
Depending on the carrier(s) of your auto and home insurance it is unlikely that there would be coverage for the tree/debris removal. So, in this scenario, the cost of removing the tree would most likely fall on the homeowner.
Trust your Agent
These are only a few of the many scenarios that come about with storm damage. In any scenario similar to these, it is incredibly useful to have an insurance agent to reach out to and discuss the situation. Your agent is able to tell you whether or not there is coverage, and if there is, what to expect moving forward with the claim process. Your local CRG agent is here as a lifeline for situations where you are unsure of your next step. Having protection and expert guidance at a time when you need it most is truly priceless.