THE SHORT ANSWER: It Depends…
All it takes is one good storm to bring down a weakening branch or even knock over a well-rooted tree. Once the storm clears and the damage is assessed—your first though is likely: “Will my homeowner’s insurance cover this?”
Coverage for fallen tree damage to a home can vary from carrier to carrier as much as it can very from policy to policy. Qualifying for coverage depends on several factors:
- Why did the tree fall? What was the caused for the fallen branch or uprooted tree?
- Was the cause a covered event under the homeowner’s policy?
- What type of damage resulted?
Each scenario is assessed by your homeowner insurance carrier, and an investigator may be sent to take photos of the fallen tree, the resulting damage, and to record your statement about the events leading up to the tree falling (i.e. was there a storm?).
Here are some scenarios and the likely* insurance coverage outcome.
- The tree appeared to be healthy and was uprooted due to hurricane winds and landed on your roof. The average policy includes coverage for wind-caused damage and may pay for the repairs and removal of the fallen tree or branches.
- The tree was not healthy but was uprooted or branches fell due to hurricane or storm winds. This is tricky; if a homeowner neglected maintenance of the tree, coverage may not apply. However, if the tree was trimmed but the trunk remained (and was subsequently uprooted), coverage could apply.
- If a tree falls but does not damage the home, your homeowner’s insurance will likely not cover tree removal costs. If it fell on your fence—this could vary on your individual policy. Some policies include private fences as part of the policy while others do not. If the tree fell on your vehicle, you’ll need to cover your car insurance carrier.
- If the tree is on your neighbor’s property and the tree falls under a covered event, then your homeowner’s insurance policy may pay for part of the repair—you may need to file a claim with your neighbor’s homeowner’s insurance carrier for complete coverage of repair costs.
In each scenario where your insurance approves coverage, you will still have only up to your coverage limit and your deductible to consider.
*These scenarios are based on the average result and may not apply to your situation or coverage. Please contact your insurance agent to learn more about how your coverage applies to your situation for a more accurate explanation of coverage.
What if I can’t afford my deductible?
When it comes to homeowner’s insurance, it works differently than your health insurance. You don’t have to pay your deductible before your homeowner’s insurance carrier will pay their portion. Homeowner’s insurance has the total cost of repairs calculated through a professional quote, subtracts your deductible, and then issues a payment to the preapproved repair company. It is between you and the repair company to resolve the difference in the balance. Many offer financing or monthly payment options.
Related Article: Homeowner’s Insurance Frequently Asked Questions