When an area is ravaged by a powerful hurricane, some of the worst damage involves fallen trees. Earlier this summer, Hurricane Irene caused many trees to uproot and damaged homes, cars, and roadways up and down the Eastern U.S. coastline. The destruction reminds us that we need to be ready, no matter where you live, for the damage that a storm can cause.
Homeowners should be proactive about knowing what their homeowner’s insurance policy includes. Coverage for wind and debris should be researched before a storm happens so you have peace of mind of what steps will need to be taken if it causes damage.
“If a tree hits a home or other insured structure, such as a detached garage, standard homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for the damage the tree does to the structure and the contents within it,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president of the Insurance Information Institute (III).
Homeowners will need to file a claim with their insurance company and pay the deductible to receive compensation for the damage. Even if a tree did not come from your land but caused issues, you can get insurance to help with the cleanup and post-storm damage. Most insurance companies will want you to get a quote from a licensed, insured, and experienced tree trimming company before cleanup can begin. Tree cleanup can be an extensive process of cutting big pieces of it to prevent more damage to an area, hauling, and many workers to expedite the labor.
Most homeowners insurance policies will cover for damage that a tree has caused to a home, detached building, or patio structure. Damage to a vehicle from a tree is covered under optional, comprehensive auto insurance policies. Coverage is not likely for trees that simply fall on the grassy property, unless it is blocking a driveway or special walkway for a disabled individual.
It is also important to know about trees or branches that could fall from your property and onto a neighbor’s property, and vice versa. “In some situations where the felled tree was located on a neighbor’s property, the policyholder’s insurance company may try to collect from the neighbor’s insurance company in a process called subrogation,” said Salvatore. “This sometimes occurs if the tree was in poor health or not properly maintained. If the insurer is successful, you may be reimbursed for the deductible.”