Trees are a beautiful addition to any home and can add value to your property. However, trees can also be troublesome if they aren’t properly maintained. Besides being unsightly, dead or decaying trees pose a safety hazard that can leave you liable for damages caused. It’s important to understand what is covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy if a tree should fall on your property or a neighbor’s property.
Generally, a homeowner’s policy will cover damage to your house and the contents caused by falling trees and tree limbs. Most storm-caused tree damage, such as ice, hail, and lightning is covered…so long as the tree was healthy and maintained. One important caveat to note that even if it was your neighbor’s tree, your policy covers damage to your property. The same is true for your neighbor.
The liability that comes with trees can become a little more complicated. If a tree on your property is not maintained correctly and has the potential to cause damage to your neighbor’s property, you may be liable. Usually, your neighbor’s insurance company will pay for the damage and then come after your insurance company for reimbursement in a process called subrogation. If the adjuster finds that you were negligent in maintaining your trees, your insurance company may end up footing the bill for your neighbor’s damages. This can mean higher premiums for you and potential lawsuits.
Our advice to you is to reach out to your neighbors if you notice they are not taking care of their trees properly. If they are not cooperative, it’s best to use certified mail to have a record of the communication to show you’ve made an effort to protect your property. If you choose not to properly maintain trees on your own property and they cause damage to your home, it is quite possible your insurance company may deny coverage due to negligence on your part.
With the changing of the seasons and a rainy winter in store for us here in North Texas, we hope you find this article informative and helpful. If you have any questions about your current homeowner’s policy, or would like to review additional policies, please contact us at Ramey King!
*This article was adapted from Homesite Home Insurance’s article “The Importance of Maintaining Trees on Your Property, 4/7/2010”.