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Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tree Damage?

Windstorms and lightning can uproot trees, causing them to topple onto homes. If a tree suddenly crashes into your roof or damages a detached structure on your property, a standard homeowners insurance policy will cover its removal as well as the damages to your dwelling and other structures, regardless of whether the tree was on your property or your neighbor's. 

There are also cases where a tree falling on your home is not covered. For instance, if you have a diseased tree on your property, your home insurance claim will be rejected because it eventually fell due to neglect. As a homeowner, it is your duty to make sure that a diseased trees on your property are properly discarded before they cause damage, like the kind in this example.

Here's everything else you need to know about home insurance claims and falling trees.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Fallen Tree Damage On My Property?

Standard homeowners insurance policies protect your home and unattached structures, such as fences and sheds, against a covered peril listed in your policy. Common perils are wind, rain, fire and lightning strikes.

Your home insurance covers tree damage to your house when a tree crashes into your home.

According to The Insurance Information Institute, it doesn't matter who owns the tree. Your insurance will still cover you. 

What Happens If the Falling Tree Was On My Neighbors Property?

If your home suffers tree damage due to a neighbor's large oak, your insurance company may pay the claim and then attempt to collect the money from your neighbor's insurance company using a process called subrogation. Regardless, you will be paid by your insurance company for any damage to your home, even if their tree was diseased. 

What if the Tree Doesn't Damage Anything?

A standard homeowners insurance policy usually includes tree removal services as long as there is structural damage due to a named peril like  heavy ice, a windstorm, a fire, severe thunderstorms etc. For instance if your neighbor’s tall pine tree falls onto your house after a blizzard and damages your roof, your insurer would cover tree removal expenses. However, If it causes no structural damage you will not be covered. If it poses a safety hazard while on your property, you may be covered but it depends on your policy and the insurer.

When Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tree Removal?

High winds can easily topple trees onto your property. If a tree falls onto your home, you may need a tree removal service to take it from your property.

Standard homeowners insurance policies cover tree damage to house structures when an otherwise healthy tree crashes into them.

Additionally, you may need to cover repairs to your home's structure due to a falling tree. Here are some instances where standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage caused by a tree falling or debris removal.

Cause of Tree Falling Where the Tree Falls (House) Insurance Coverage for Damages?
Storm, hail, iceHouseYes
FireHouseYes
LightningHouseYes

When Does Homeowners Insurance Not Cover Tree Damage?

Homeowners insurance doesn't cover losses from tree damage caused by poor maintenance or neglect. For instance, if an insurance adjuster sees the tree was rotten and fell, your homeowners insurance wouldn't cover the damages. The difference here is that the claim is rejected if the damage was caused by gradual decline versus an event that was accidental or unexpected. A diseased tree will eventually fall.

Homeowners insurance won’t cover losses from tree damage caused by poor maintenance or neglect.

How Much Does Tree Removal Cost?

The average cost to cut down a tree ranges from $400 to $2000 and to haul it away, $75 to $150. The average price for one tree is $700-$750.

How Much Does Insurance Pay for Tree Removal?

Usually, a homeowners insurance policy will pay up to 5% of your total dwelling coverage for tree removal. For instance, if you have $400,000 in dwelling coverage, your insurer would cap your repair costs for tree and debris removal at $20,000. Insurers may also limit how much they will spend per tree.

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Should I File a Claim?

Consider your deductible and a possible rate hike before you decide to file a claim. Deductibles are shared costs you must pay before your insurance covers your damages. The average deductible ranges from $750 - $1,000.

The median cost to haul away a tree ranges from $225 -500 (for small trees), $500 - $900 (for medium) and $900 - $2,500 (for large ones).

Unless you had extensive damage to your home or need to have the tree cut down, it may not makes sense to file a claim.

Will I Still Receive Coverage if the Tree Hasn't Damaged Anything?

Your homeowners insurance won't reimburse you for the cost of debris removal if the fallen tree fell due to reasons that are not listed as perils in the declaration page of your homeowners insurance policy. Your insurance company may make an exception if the tree causes a hazard, such as blocking a driveway.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Removal of Tree Debris?

A standard homeowners insurance policy usually includes a debris removal statute, including tree removal services as long as the tree fell due to a named peril like  heavy ice, a windstorm, a fire, severe thunderstorms etc. For instance if your neighbor’s tall pine tree falls onto your house after a blizzard, your insurer would cover tree removal and tree debris removal.

Does a Standard Homeowners Policy Cover Damage to My Car from a Fallen Tree?

Unfortunately, your homeowners insurance won't pay if a tree falls and damages your vehicle. You can file a claim with your auto insurance policy if you have comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy. Comprehensive insurance pays to repair damage caused by falling objects.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tree and Shrub Replacement?

Tree replacement falls under the category of landscaping. According to the Insurance Information Institute, insurance companies limit coverage for landscaping damage to five percent of the amount of coverage on your structure (. They will cap coverage for any single shrub, plant or tree damaged in a disaster.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Damage to Sewer Lines from Trees?

Every year, tree roots cause damages to home structures, pipes and foundations in homes across the United States. Homeowners policies cover sudden and accidental damage, and slowly growing tree roots don't fit this definition.

As a result, most homeowners policies may not cover damages to pipes and sewer lines caused by tree roots. Additionally, they may not cover the water damage to your property that may occur because of tree root damage.

How To Prevent Trees From Falling

1. Inspect trees after each storm

Search for broken and bent branches on your tree and remove them. If necessary, contact a professional if the branch is inaccessible.

2. Examine loose and large branches

Loose branches can become a hazard. An arborist can reduce the size of a branch by installing cables for support.

3. Monitor Your Tree's Health

Closely examine your trees for any signs of disease, infestations and broken branches. Other indications of poor tree health include leaves falling out of season. Root rot may not be as easy to notice so you may want to periodically have your trees checked by a professional.

Is Tree Root Damage to Sewer Lines Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

No, typically, tree root damage is not covered by homeowners insurance because it takes time for the root to take hold and begin to affect your sewer line. It's your responsibility as a homeowner to take action before there is any damage. Similarly, insurers reject home insurance claims when a falling tree wreaks havoc on a home but is found to be diseased.

If  you have a tree and its roots have begun to take shape around your sewer line, don't wait until the worst happens because repairs will be costly and not covered by insurance. Your insurance company may cover the removal of the tree before it damages the water entry pipe, however. It's always best to speak with your agent right away, when you see signs of something that may turn into a problem down the line.

Get Adequate Tree Damage Coverage, Save Money

Consider that storms and lightning cause falling trees, especially if they are unhealthy and in bad shape. Removal of rotten trees is not covered by homeowners insurance, but if the tree is healthy and you're covered, only 5% of your dwelling coverage is allotted to tree removal services. Make sure that your homeowners insurance policy has adequate limits. 

You may also be able to get a better and cheaper policy if you shop around. To compare rates for homeowners insurance for free, enter your zip code below and answer a few questions about your home. You may save up to 40% on homeowners insurance, even after increasing your limits!

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