Tree Removal Insurance: Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tree Removal?

For all their benefits, trees can also cause some major headaches. This is especially true when they fall. Because trees cause so much damage when they fall, you might be wondering about tree removal insurance. Does homeowners insurance cover tree removal? After all, homeowners insurance protects your home against other perils, so why not fallen or dangerous trees? In this article, we’ll cover who is responsible for fallen tree damages, when you can expect insurance to cover the costs, and how to reduce damage from fallen trees.

Can I Be Liable For Damages From a Fallen Tree?

The short answer: yes, you might be liable for damages in the event that a tree falls on your neighbor’s property. The good news is that in most cases, you are only responsible if you knew that the tree was a danger. This means that signs of decay or disease would have to be visible:

  • Branches without leaves during the summer
  • Many brown, yellow, or brittle leaves
  • Bark peeling off the tree
  • Infestation by wood-boring insects
  • Severed roots
  • Slimy roots
  • Leaning in one direction

Liability May Vary Depending on Where You Live

You typically would not be liable for falls caused by damage that only an experienced arborist could have diagnosed. Having said that, the criteria for negligence may be different depending on where you live. For example, homeowners in urban areas may be expected to be more diligent when it comes to tree inspection compared to rural homeowners. To be safe, it’s best to check with your municipality to determine what the standards are where you live.

Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Damages From a Fallen Tree?

Typically, homeowners insurance will cover damages on insured structures, so long as the cause is covered by your policy. Most insurance policies will cover debris removal. This includes the removal of trees that fall after a storm, so long as the tree caused damage to a structure covered by your policy, or is blocking access to your home. This also means that if a storm causes a tree to fall, insurance won’t pay for the tree’s removal if it falls onto your lawn without damaging anything. The same is true for heavy snow. If the weight of snow causes a tree to fall onto your house, your insurance policy will typically cover it. The following guidelines will apply to most places in the United States:

Cause of Tree Falling Where the Tree Fell Will Insurance Cover Tree Removal?
Windstorm or hail On the house Yes
Windstorm or hail On lawn, or empty space No
Weight of ice, snow, or slee On NoYes
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/td>

How Much Will Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Tree Removal

Most insurance policies will pay up to $1000 for tree removal, but not more than $500 for a single tree.

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Damages Caused by a Fallen Tree

If your home and personal belongings are damaged by a fallen tree, your insurance policy’s dwelling and personal property coverages will reimburse you for repairs and new prices. How much you will be reimbursed will depend on your coverage limits.

Landscaping Replacement

Most homeowners insurance policies will cover up to 5% of your dwelling limit to replace any trees, shrubs, and plants that were damaged. As with debris removal, your insurer will not likely reimburse you more than $500 for a single plant.

When Is Tree Removal Not Covered?

If your tree fell due to a peril not covered by your insurance, then you won’t be reimbursed for any damages. If the tree did not cause damage to a covered structure, then insurance will also not reimburse you. This is true even if the cause for the tree’s fall is covered in your policy. Trees that fall for any of the following reasons are generally not covered by homeowners insurance:

  • Rot
  • Age
  • Earthquakes
  • Flooding
  • Mudslides

What Happens if My Neighbor’s Tree Falls on My Property?

If your neighbor’s tree falls on your yard, your insurance is unlikely to cover the damages. However, you may be able to file a liability claim with your neighbor’s insurance provider. As mentioned earlier, you are usually only liable if you knew the tree posed a danger. The same will be true for your neighbor. You will likely only get a payout if it can be proven that the tree fell due to your neighbor’s negligence. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to prove. In the event your liability claim is denied, your next option would be to talk with your neighbor and see if they would be willing to cover or split the cost of damages.

How to Reduce Damages from Fallen Trees

There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of fallen trees and the damages they cause.

Keep an Eye on the Trees in and Around Your Property

When trees fall, they can cause a lot of damage. That is why as a homeowner, it is your responsibility to make sure the trees in your property are in good condition. This means you need to take the time to inspect them regularly for damage. If necessary, you will need to have the trees pruned, as well. You will also want to keep an eye on the trees on your neighbor’s property to keep your home safe.

Talk to Your Neighbor

If you notice that a tree on your neighbor’s property has become dangerous, you need to talk to them about it. No one enjoys this conversation, but it’s a necessary part of homeownership.

Talk to Certified Arborists

Arborists are trained in assessing tree health, and identifying potential hazards. They will be able to tell which branches or trees need to be removed to reduce the risk of damage to your property. If there is a tree on a neighboring property that is causing you concern, consider hiring an arborist to conduct an expert assessment. That way, if the tree does fall and cause damage to your property, you will have stronger evidence of negligence in case you decide to file a liability claim.

Conclusion

Falling trees can cause a lot of damage. Taking precautions can help protect your home, your family, and your neighbors. In the event that the worst happens, it’s good to know whether or not your tree removal insurance can help cover the costs