When storms like Irma pound our neighborhoods, tree damage is common. Major hurricanes will often require professional services to safely remove fallen limbs, trees, and other debris. But as with any storm damage, the question is, “What will my insurance cover, and what will I have to pay for out-of-pocket?”
Good News/Bad News
The greatest likelihood of homeowner’s insurance coverage is if fallen trees or limbs land on your home or other covered structures on your property (which may include outbuildings and fences). Even if the tree falls from a neighbor’s property, you should be covered if it damages your home. (Similarly, if a tree lands on your car, it might not fall under homeowner’s coverage, but your auto insurance.) Check your homeowner’s policy for coverage on your garage, deck, and even your driveway. No one wants home damage, but in this case, it’s the most likely to be covered.
Sorry… and Sorry Again
Unfortunately, a tree that falls alone (whether or not it makes a sound) is likely not covered by insurance. Unless it damages a structure, tree removal cost will be at your expense. Even preventive pruning or removal to take care of a limb or tree likely to fall on a structure will still be on your dime.
The storm may have been the final straw for an ailing tree, but if the roots or trunk show an underlying ailment, homeowner’s insurance may not cover the damage—even if the tree falls on your home. There may be grace if the problems weren’t obvious, but this “escape” clause is good reason for you to maintain your trees and have them regularly inspected and pruned by qualified arborists. If, however, the neglected tree that falls on your property is your neighbor’s, you may actually be covered. It’s also important to review your policy regarding coverage of high wind damage from hurricanes. Make sure it’s not excluded—or sock away savings just in case.
Collecting insurance payouts can be time-consuming, but if your home has been damaged by a fallen tree and the interior is exposed to the weather, don’t wait for insurance payouts to repair it. Further weather damage will only make the situation worse. But take photos of everything to help document your claim.
Post-storm tree cleanup can seem like a huge job with a big expense, but it all depends on the prior condition of your trees and where they fall as a result of storm damage. Get in touch with the Tree Surgeons to help you navigate the cleanup, and to keep you safe in the process of removing trees and debris.