Usually YES, but not always.
We’re coming up on the rainy season in Napa, and that means high winds and storms. So, we’ll look at some typical tree-falling scenarios to see how an insurance company looks at each claim.
(Remember, each homeowners policy is unique. Benefits cannot be guaranteed in advance.)
To keep things simple, I’ll assume a typical thunderstorm as the cause of each hypothetical claim below.
1. My tree falls on my house.
Your homeowners policy covers this, assuming you have a typical policy. Of course, there’s a deductible and policy limits apply. Also, some policies may include a small amount of coverage for debris removal.
2. My tree falls on my fence.
It’s typically covered. However, fences, sheds and “other structures” usually have a limit of 10% of the insured amount. In other words, if your home is insured for $200,000, your other structures are insured for only $20,000. If that’s not enough, or you if you are concerned, talk to your agent.
3. A tree falls on my car.
Just your luck. You washed your car, and now a tree falls on it. Are you covered? Surprisingly, NOT under a homeowners policy. However, your AUTO policy should cover this under the optional comprehensive provision of your policy. If you are not sure whether you have comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance- check with your agent to make sure.
4. My tree falls on my yard.
Sorry- you’ll be on your own for cleaning up the mess. Your homeowners policy is designed to protect structures. There’s seldom any coverage for trees falling on the ground. However, some policies may cover a small amount of the cost of removal if a driveway is blocked. Again- check with your agent.
5. My tree falls on my neighbor’s house.
Here’s where it gets interesting! Your neighbor’s homeowners policy, NOT YOURS, covers the damage. The policy that covers the building or structure is the policy that pays for the damage, regardless of who owns the tree. This is always true, except when it isn’t. Keep reading...
6. My neighbor’s tree falls on my house.
Again, your policy (not theirs) covers the damage, EXCEPT when there is clear negligence on the part of the owner of the tree. In those unusual cases, your insurance company could go after your neighbor’s policy for payment. We call that “subrogation.” If that happens, you could end up paying no deductible. But this works both ways: you and your neighbor both have an obligation to take care of obviously “risky” trees. So, if you have a diseased or dead tree that could easily fall, take care of it before something happens.
- Review your policy with your agent BEFORE a storm hits.
- Prune or remove risky trees and branches BEFORE they fall.
- Take pictures AFTER a tree falls, and before the cleanup. Claims adjusters may need this.
Bruce Sackrison is an insurance property and casualty broker affiliated with Professional Insurance Associates helping clients with insurance needs for personal, commercial and business insurance. Bruce can be reached at 707-931-0186, firstname.lastname@example.org