A common cause of insurance claims comes from uprooted trees falling onto insured property. When your tree falls on your home, it’s pretty easy to guess your insurance will pay.
But not every tree is kind enough to fall in a predictable manner. What happens if your tree falls on your neighbor’s property? Or their tree falls on yours? Do you play rock-paper-scissors to choose whose insurance covers it? How does it work?
Relax. No need to get frustrated. We have all the information you need here.
Save Me Time!
- Insurance pays for your damage to your stuff. It doesn’t matter what caused it (most of the time).
- Thus, if your tree falls on the neighbor’s property, their insurance pays (and they owe the deductible).
- If the neighbor’s tree falls on your home, your insurance pays, but you still have to pay your deductible.
- Make sure you know if a separate wind deductible applies!
The Rest of the Story
To tell you the truth, you probably don’t need to read much more than the “Save Me Time” but just to make sure all is clear, we’ll give you the longer version here.
There are basically three scenarios you need to be concerned about:
- Your tree falls on your house or other structures.
- Your tree falls on the neighbor’s property.
- Their tree falls on your property.
Your Tree, Your Property
Let’s do the easiest first. If your tree falls on your home, fence, deck, shed, etc., your insurance will pay. You will be responsible for your deductible. That’s the whole story. Right? Well, maybe…
Yes, most of the time it’s that simple, but we should probably cover a couple of other cases to be thorough…
What happens if that tree that fell on your deck had died? Does that change anything? Quite possibly. By the letter of the law, insurance doesn’t have to pay if you didn’t remove a dead tree and it then fell on your property.
Don’t tell anyone I told you, but, many times, the insurance company will pay anyway to avoid a dispute, but they don’t have to. It is a gamble on your part if you have a dying or rotted tree and you do nothing about it.
One other scenario we should address. What if your tree falls in your yard and lands on the grass? Surely, the insurer will pay for removal, right? I’m afraid not.
Insurers only pay for removal if the tree damages your property. If the only damage is to the tree, you need to pay yourself.
Your Tree, Neighbor’s Property
We can’t control which way a tree falls when it comes down which means it may land on your neighbor’s property. In that case, refer to our principle at the beginning. Insurance pays for damage to your stuff.
It doesn’t matter whose tree damaged your stuff. This means the neighbor’s insurance pays for the neighbor’s stuff. If your tree damages their stuff, it is not your responsibility.
However, you may feel a little guilty that your tree caused damage to your neighbor’s home. One way to relieve your guilt would be to offer to pay their deductible for them. Your call.
There is one scenario where you can be held responsible. It is similar to the “dead tree” exception above. If you have a dying tree that you don’t remove, and said tree falls on the neighbor’s home, the neighbor’s insurance can refuse to pay and say it was your responsibility.
One more reason to remove those old trees!
Neighbor’s Tree, Your Property
This just the flip side of the prior scenario. If the neighbor’s tree falls on your home, your insurance will pay and you will owe the deductible.
Again, if the tree had died, things could play out differently. In this case, your insurer may pursue your neighbor’s insurance for payment because of their negligence.
If your neighbor isn’t being, well, neighborly, about paying your deductible, perhaps you might want to ask them if they’re sure their tree was in good health before the adjuster comes.
One other thing to consider is, as mentioned, you will owe a deductible if a tree damages your property. However, if the tree fell due to high winds, your deductible could be higher than you think.
Many states have separate deductibles for losses caused by wind. Sometimes, these are limited to “named storms” such as hurricanes, but, in other states, it can be as simple as a thunderstorm.
If the tree falls due to wind (which is often the case), you will be faced with your wind deductible instead of your standard one. These are often 1 or 2% of the insured amount of your home, so can easily run into the thousands of dollars!
It is a good idea to review your policy and understand whether you have a wind deductible and how big it is, as you may be taking more risk than you realize when it comes to tree damage.