What happens if a tree falls on your house?

No one enjoys having trees fall on their property or especially on their home. If a tree falls on your house, will your homeowner’s insurance cover it? Well the answer is a little complicated.  Let’s run through a couple of examples:

A storm comes through and a normally healthy tree is knocked over due to high winds onto your house. In this scenario, it is likely that the removal of the tree will be covered and your house repairs will be covered as well. Your homeowner’s insurance deductible will apply. If it was a “hurricane”, you may have a different “hurricane” deductible instead of your normal homeowner’s deductible.

A tree that was unhealthy and threatening to fall down is finally knocked over by a storm onto your house. There is a chance that it may not be covered on your homeowner’s insurance since it happened after a lack of maintenance to your tree. Proper tree maintenance is vital.

A tree is knocked down by a storm, but doesn’t land on your house or other structures. It is unlikely that the removal of this tree will be covered by your insurance. However, there are sometimes exceptions for fallen trees that block your driveway or handicap accessible features.  It is worth calling your agent to find out if your deductible will apply in these scenarios.

Your neighbor’s tree falls on your house. Usually this is covered by your insurance, but you will have to pay your homeowner’s deductible. Your homeowner’s insurance company may go after your neighbor’s homeowner’s insurance company to pay for the damages. In some successful cases, you may be reimbursed your deductible if your homeowner’s insurance is fully reimbursed by your neighbor’s insurance company.

In all of these scenarios, there are a few questions to still answer. 

Is there a cap on the coverage amount for the removal of each tree? Yes, there typically is. You will need to check out your policy for the exact amount.  

Will my insurance pay to replace the trees that have been destroyed or fallen? This is dependent on the cause. Trees and shrubs do typically have some replacement coverage if destroyed by fire, lightning, vandalism, and several other perils, but not by wind or water.  There is also a cap on the replacement amount per tree/shrub and a total cap. You will have to check out your policy for these caps. You may be able to purchase an additional coverage to raise the cap of how many trees/shrubs are covered and how much each individual one is covered for (before they are destroyed, of course!).

Could I be held liable if my tree falls on someone or their house? Short answer: It’s possible. Regardless, to reduce your risk, keep high limits of liability coverage on your homeowner’s policy, consider taking out a personal umbrella liability policy, and properly maintain your trees. 

How should I take care of my trees? Hire a professional arborist to keep trees trimmed or to remove unhealthy trees before they fall. The cost and hassle of doing this is less than paying your homeowner’s deductible and then living through the repairs or dealing with legal implications if they damage someone else’s property. Always check the local reviews and reputation of your arborist. You will want someone experienced and reputable to take down trees or limbs near structures or power lines. Secondly, make sure that your arborist has proper business insurance, because if they cause damage to your property, power lines, or someone else’s property, it should be covered under their insurance and not your homeowner’s insurance!