You are relaxing one evening and watching the drama of a thunderstorm or a blizzard, when suddenly you hear a big crash on the other side of the house. You run over to that part of the house and notice a tree has come crashing down on your home. Part of the roof is destroyed, walls are damaged, and a beloved antique heirloom is smashed to pieces. Besides freak out, what do you do now?
This is where homeowners can swoop in and save the day. If an otherwise healthy tree damages your home as a result of a covered peril such as a windstorm, lightning bolt, or falling object, dwelling and other structures coverage may help to repair any damages to your house. This coverage also includes separate structures on your property such as a shed or fence. Additionally, your antique heirloom might be covered by your personal property insurance. The cost to remove the tree would be covered too in order to make way for the repair process.
Homeowners Insurance Basics
Homeowners insurance protects you when a covered peril damages your property, including your home and other structures on your property. Different homeowners policies cover different perils, but most cover: fire and smoke; lightning strikes; windstorm and hail; explosions; vandalism and malicious mischief; damage from a aircraft, car, or vehicle; theft; falling objects; weight of ice, snow, or sleet; and water damage. If one of those perils destroys your home, a basic homeowners policy should compensate you for:
- Damage to the dwelling (the house)
- Damage to other structures such as a garage, shed, or fence
- Personal property damage
- Liability protection
- Additional living expenses
Your homeowners insurance will only pay out if you can prove a covered peril caused the damage. In the case if a tree falls on your home, you will be covered as long as falling objects is a covered peril and you aren't negligent about the condition of the tree before it fell on your house.
Homeowners Insurance and Tree Damage
Tree damage is considered a falling object when it comes to homeowners insurance perils. If a tree falls on your house or other structures due to a covered peril, your homeowners policy will take care of it, as long as you have the proper coverage. An important note is that tree doesn't have to be from your own yard to collect compensation. The tree can be from a neighbor's yard, or it can be from public property. As long as you have the right coverage, you should be protected.
Tree Removal Incidents That Aren't Covered
If a tree falls on your house, not all incidents are covered. If a tree falls on your house because of an earthquake, your homeowners insurance will not pay out. An earthquake is not a covered peril. Luckily, we very rarely have earthquakes in NY. Our biggest issues are trees falling from severe thunderstorms and blizzards.
If you are negligent about a rotting tree falling onto your house, don't look to the insurance company for help. If you knew the tree was old and rotting or even dead, and the tree fell onto your house, your homeowners insurance will not pay. Negligence is not a covered peril and it is your responsibility to make sure problematic trees are removed away from your house before they cause any damage.
If a tree falls into your yard and causes no damage to the house, other structures, or driveway, most likely the tree removal will not be covered by your homeowners insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What if a tree that's not on my property falls onto my home, car, or driveway?
A: No matter where the tree came from, you and your insurance company will be responsible for paying the repairs. If the tree does damage to your home or property, you will file a claim with your homeowners insurance. If it damages you car, your auto insurance will cover it.
Q: Does homeowners insurance cover damage to the structure of my home, contents, or both?
A: Yes, homeowners insurance covers tree damage to both your home's structure as well as the contents. There are caps to how much coverage you will receive for different types of damage. You will receive only around 10% coverage for damage to other structures, like a shed, on your property.
Q: It seems like a tree on my property could fall any minute. Will my homeowners insurance step in and help?
A: No, you will need to contact a tree removal service and have them remove it. If you wait until after the tree falls and it destroys your house or structures, the insurance company most likely won't pay out if they can prove you were negligent about not removing the tree.
Q: Am I responsible if a tree from my property damages my neighbor's property?
A: You are typically only considered responsible if you are neglectful about a tree falling into your neighbor's yard. If a storm knocked your tree into your neighbor's yard, your neighbor will likely have to file a claim through his or her own insurance.
If you have any questions about what coverages are included on your homeowners policy, contact us today!
Written by Pepe Insurance Agency.