“The Neighbor’s Tree Fell On My House…Who Pays?”

insurance fallen treeHas this happened to you? There’s a tree in your neighbor’s backyard close to your property. You’re a bit nervous about it because it’s getting old and there’s some rot inside.

What if a windstorm causes that tree to come crashing down onto your house? Your roof and second floor bedroom would be hit. The property damage would be extensive. There’s the roof, the room’s walls, floors, and windows. Plus most of the bedroom furniture would probably be destroyed.

Are you covered on your homeowners insurance policy to fix the damage? Should your neighbor pay because it was his/her tree?

Does My Homeowners Insurance Pay for a Fallen Tree?

Let’s take a look at your homeowners insurance policy. Regarding the coverage on your dwelling it says, “We insure against risks of direct physical loss to property…EXCEPT:…” And there are no exceptions for wind damage or falling objects (the tree). So, yes, you can call us to make a claim on your homeowners insurance policy.

As to your contents, you’re covered there, too. If you have Replacement Cost on Contents, your insurance will pay for new furniture. If not, the settlement will be on a depreciated basis.

The only cost to you in all of this is your deductible. But that may seem unfair, especially if you have, as we recommend, a higher deductible. Shouldn’t your neighbor pay for that? After all, the tree was on his/her property. It was not your tree that caused all that damage!

But It Was My Neighbor’s Tree! Shouldn’t They Pay?

The thing is, was your neighbor responsible for the storm that blew the tree into your house? Were they liable for your loss? Here’s where we get into the idea of “an act of God.” In other words, it isn’t your neighbor’s fault that the wind blew the tree over. None of us can control the weather.

But what if we change the scenario a bit and say the tree fell, not because it blew over in a windstorm, but because it was so unstable with rot. Now, you would have a case to sue your neighbor for the damage to your home.

Why does this matter?

Because if your insurance company can establish your neighbor’s negligence, they might be able to get your deductible back. In most cases, we would guess that this would be a difficult case to make, especially if the tree was rotted but blown over by the wind.

So, if you think your neighbor’s tree is a danger to you because it has not been taken good care of or is rotting out, you could send them a letter stating your concerns and keep a copy of it. That might help you prove that it was not an act of God that felled the tree, but a property owner’s negligence in not taking care of it.

Two points: 1) Your homeowners insurance will pay for tree damage to your property and 2) if there is a tree that is not on your property but that you think is dangerous, let the owner know.

We are not lawyers and every case is different. For the most part, trees fall because of the wind and the wind is no one’s fault. So in either case, you can be comfortable that your homeowners insurance policy will respond in the event of tree damage.

Questions? Give us a call and if we don’t carry your home insurance policy, we’ll give you a quote.

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

PS While we’re on the subject of trees, the removal of a tree that falls for any reason but doesn’t damage property is NOT covered on your homeowners policy unless coverage is added by special endorsement.

SZW Insurance is your New Hartford area independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here.

Posted on: October 3rd, 2017 at 5:52pm by nkburns. Filed under: Uncategorized
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