A tree or large limb comes crashing down on your residential property, causing significant damage and requiring significant repairs. Before you can file a homeowners’ insurance claim and get money for repairs, you have to understand exactly who was at fault for the tree – and whether it should have been prevented.
In most cases, there are three different options.
- Your neighbor might be at fault. If the tree was fully located on your neighbor’s property, and if it was badly neglected, they may be at fault for the damage incurred on your property. However, it is important that evidence exists that your neighbor was aware of the tree’s danger and did nothing to prevent the tree from falling. If your neighbor is clearly at fault, you should still file a claim with your insurance company. Your insurance company may try to collect claim money from your neighbor’s insurance company.
- The weather might be at fault. In many cases, perfectly healthy and robust trees are knocked down in severe weather: sometimes high winds can bend and break trees, while in other cases heavy snow and ice can bring down even the largest trees. In the majority of these instances, general homeowners insurance policies will cover the cost of repairs. In rare cases, an insurance company may claim that the falling tree was an “Act of God” and deny your claim.
- You might be at fault. Insurance companies may not cover your claim if they discover that the tree on your property fell due to your negligence. Were you aware that the tree was a danger, due to broken branches or a rotting trunk? Did you do something to the tree that led to its fall? To a reasonable extent, a homeowner is required to maintain their property and keep it safe.