Trees can cause devastating damage to your home and the belongings inside. The cost to cover repairs could be astronomical without the financial assistance of a homeowners insurance policy. While not every tree-related incident will be covered, standard policies do allow for coverage under certain circumstances. It’s a good idea to understand what to expect before any damage occurs.
When tree damage is covered by homeowners insurance
Whether or not a homeowners insurance policy covers tree damage depends on the situation. One of the major factors is the cause of the tree falling. The following scenarios are typically covered by homeowners insurance:
- A fire caused by lightning
Damage caused by a tree is typically not covered if it’s due to any of the following:
Insurance companies also examine where the tree fell when reviewing tree-related claims. According to the Insurance Information Institute (iii), if a tree falls in the yard but does not damage the home or any other structure on the property, it is not likely to be covered by insurance.
When tree removal is covered by home insurance
The iii estimates that one tree costs between $500 and $1,000 to remove (including clearing debris out of the way) and will likely be covered homeowners insurance only in these circumstances:
- A tree falls on an insured structure
- A fallen tree is blocking a driveway
- A fallen tree is blocking a handicap-accessible ramp
Reimbursement for removal is unlikely if an insured structure wasn’t hit (unless it is impeding an access point such as those listed above).
What to do when someone else’s tree damages your property
According to the iii, a standard homeowners insurance policy should cover a tree that falls on your house, regardless of who owns the tree. The coverage applies to trees that fall due to wind, lightning or hail, and the policy should cover the structure of the home and the insured person’s belongings.
In some cases, the insurance company may try to collect the money needed to cover the damage from the neighbor’s insurance company in a process called subrogation, which may also cover the deductible for the homeowner whose property was damaged.
How much to expect from the insurance company
Any payout from an insurance company depends on several factors, including what property was damaged. If a covered peril damaged the house, the insured is eligible to receive up to the limit of their policy’s dwelling coverage. The homeowner can usually also file a claim for personal belongings, although these are typically covered separately and only covered up to 50-70% of the dwelling coverage. High-value items typically will not be covered.
Once the adjuster creates an estimate for each claim category, the insurance company subtracts the policy deductible from the amount the insured receives. Keep in mind there may be two separate deductibles for dwelling and personal property claims. Some policies also cover living expenses such as hotels and meals if the home is uninhabitable.
How to prevent tree damage
According to Allstate, fallen trees and limbs account for millions of dollars in damage each year. Here are a few things homeowners can do to prevent trees from causing damage to structures and property:
- Regularly trim any trees on the property, especially those with long branches likely to fall and cause damage due to wind, ice or snow.
- Be on the lookout for dead trees, which can be identified by a year-round lack of leaves or hollow trunks.
- Look for rot at the base of tree trunks. Warning signs include the presence of mushrooms or cracks or holes at the bottom.
- Identify and remove trees that are leaning off-center since they may be poised to fall completely.
- Pay extra attention to trees that overhang your roof, driveway or power lines.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best home insurance company?
Finding the best home insurance company depends on a lot of factors. It’s a good idea to compare quotes from some of the top home insurers in the country ranked on criteria like customer service, financial strength and affordability. Not every homeowner has the same needs, so it’s smart to look at several options and speak with a licensed insurance professional.
Does homeowners insurance cover diseased tree removal?
No, diseased tree removal is considered routine maintenance and is not included in a standard homeowners insurance policy. It’s the homeowner’s responsibility to track the health of their trees and treat them when needed.
If a falling tree damages my roof, will that be covered by homeowners insurance?
A roof can be expensive to replace, but most standard policies will cover tree damage to a roof if the following perils caused it:
- Fire or lightning
- Windstorms and hail
- Riots, vandalism or theft
- Damaged caused by aircraft or vehicles
- Volcanic eruptions
- Falling objects
- The weight of snow, ice or sleet
In most cases, roof damage from a tree felled by floods or earthquakes are not covered, and it’s a good idea to purchase a separate policy to cover these perils if you live in an area prone to either.