Atlanta is known for being a city with a lot of trees. The local flora is picturesque and pretty, but it does raise some questions about home insurance. First and foremost: does homeowners insurance cover fallen trees? Second: does homeowners insurance cover a tree falling on my neighbor’s house? Then that raises the question of what if a tree falls on my car, on my fence…You get the point. There are a lot of possibilities involving trees. Anyways, we’ll answer all of those tree-related questions. It’ll be tree-rific.
Does homeowners insurance cover fallen trees?
Most likely, yes. Indeed it does. If that oak tree in your yard blows over and crashes into your house, your home insurance would most likely cover the costs of repairs to your roof and house. And most home insurance policies include coverage for storms and lightning strikes, so you should be good to go. Of course, it’s always a good idea to read over your policy so you understand exactly what circumstances are covered. But ideally, all it would take is submitting a home insurance claim and you can get the tree removed from your home and the damage patched up.
Does homeowners insurance cover damage to my neighbor’s house?
You go to answer the door. It’s your neighbor and they do not look happy. It only takes a quick glance down the street to find out why. Your beautiful oak tree has smashed into their roof. Uh oh.
So, what happens in this scenario? Would your home insurance cover it? The answer is no. It would actually be the neighbor’s home insurance that would cover the claim, so they would have to go through their home insurance company to get the tree situation taken care of. They probably won’t be too happy about having to pay their deductible, but that’s the way it works.
On the flip side, if your neighbor’s tree falls on your home, it’s your home insurance company that will cover the claim … and you would be the one on the hook for your deductible. Basically, the rule goes that if it’s your house, it’s your insurance.
Now. There’s something else you need to know about trees. Let’s say that your neighbor informed you about a diseased tree that they fear will fall. They nag you about it multiple times because they want you to take it down. Even better, let’s say they have their warning in writing and stamped with the date (i.e. in an email.) But you put it off and never got around to it. The diseased tree falls onto the neighbor’s house, damaging their roof. If they can prove that you were aware that the tree was dangerous and did nothing about it, their insurance company can come after you to reimburse the neighbor for their deductible. Just a tidbit to be aware of, the moral of which is to have any diseased or hollow trees removed safely. And to have your yard and property checked for problem trees about once a year so you can get them taken care of.
What if a tree falls on my car?
If a tree squashes your car, your home insurance would not cover it. However, your auto insurance would – if you purchased comprehensive coverage (if you didn’t, you’re out of luck.) Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle against damage not caused by a car accident; it usually covers fire, theft, animal strikes, and yes – falling trees. You’d only have to pay for your deductible.
If it’s your neighbor’s car that gets flattened, same rule as home insurance: their car, their insurance. If your neighbor’s tree decides to squish your car, your insurance. See? Insurance isn’t always complicated.
What if a tree falls through my fence?
A fence, while it might ward off trespassers and keep your dog in the yard, will not deter a falling tree. The good news is that you probably have “other structures” coverage in your home insurance, which covers things like detached garages, sheds, patios, driveways, and, yes – fences. You’ll have to check your policy to make sure that it does indeed offer these coverages and to check what the limit is for other structures.
So, there you have it: homeowners insurance will indeed cover your home if a tree falls on it. Aren’t you re-leafed? (Sorry, we were on a roll with the puns.) Potential disputes with neighbors notwithstanding, you’re good to go where trees are concerned. However, it’s always a good idea to review your policy thoroughly so that you know exactly what is and isn’t covered.
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