If a Neighbors Tree Falls onto Your Property, What is Covered By The Neighbor’s Insurance Policy?

Posted on Oct 30, 2020
If a Neighbors Tree Falls onto Your Property, What is Covered By The Neighbor's Insurance Policy?

Trees. They are beautiful in the spring and fall, provide valuable shade in the summer, and break the wind when winter’s worst blows bitter cold into your home. Tall trees with big branches offer perfect locations for tree houses, tire swings, and endless hours of summer fun for kids of all ages.

But what happens when storms, age, time, damage, rot, and countless other possibilities cause a neighbor’s rotten tree to fall and land on your property? Whose insurance is responsible for the damage the tree causes?

How Much Damage Can One Tree Do?

It’s a good question. One that might surprise you. According to Homes.com, trees falling onto homes are the leading causes of roof damage to U.S. homes, accounting for more than one billion dollars annually in property damage

Unfortunately, property damage isn’t the only bad thing that happens when trees fall, as more than 100 deaths by falling trees are reported each year in the U.S. Homes and humans aren’t the only things falling trees can damage. 

The many ways a falling tree can cause damage to your property includes the following:

  • Swimming pool damage from falling trees
  • Fence damage or destruction by falling trees
  • Trees falling on vehicles
  • Trees falling on detached garages and other unattached structures

That doesn’t even include things like RVs, ATVs, motorcycles, project vehicles, and countless other investments you’ve made that will be costly to replace if damaged or destroyed by a fallen tree.

Other Costs Associated With Falling Trees

The property damage and potential healthcare costs involved in falling trees are only part of the problem. There’s also the problem of a tree in your roof that must somehow be safely removed, structural problems that could be caused by the weight of the tree on your home, and possible erosion related to the tree’s root system. There’s a lot to consider when it comes to falling trees, and the rights and responsibilities are a little less than clear in many instances.

Whose Insurance is Responsible for the Damage?

The long and short answer is this: it depends. There are different prevailing rules about legal responsibility in different situations. For instance, storm damage causing an otherwise healthy tree to fall onto your property (car, home, boat, etc.) would be considered an act of God, and your neighbor will not be held accountable for such damage. In these cases, your insurance covers the damage caused by the tree and may cover some or all of the costs associated with removing the tree, depending on the type of insurance coverage you have.

If, on the other hand, the tree was diseased and neglected and fell onto your property, then your neighbor’s insurance may be required to pay for the damage to your property and the removal of the tree. Of course, this can be difficult to prove and cost more than it is worth to fight in court.

Even then, though, most insurance companies offer limited protection for tree removals, especially compared to the current costs of these types of services. Chances are that you’re going to be on the hook for a large sum of these expenses yourself.

If the tree falls onto your property and does not cause property damage, you may be stuck with the costs of removing the tree yourself. Hopefully, you have a good relationship with your neighbor, and you can work together to remove the tree. Most insurances will not cover this type of event though there are rare occasions in which insurance will cover the tree’s removal if it is creating obstacles for drivers.

Different municipalities have different requirements in place concerning “fault” for events like trees falling on neighbor’s property. In most cases, you will need to file a claim with your insurance company, and they will determine if they are willing to go after your neighbor to recover their losses. This process also helps you maintain a cordial relationship with your neighbors over trying to handle these matters yourself.

If your neighbor’s dead tree falls on your car, your automobile policy should cover the damage to your vehicle and its repair or replacement under your comprehensive coverage policy. However, if you do not have comprehensive coverage, it is unlikely that this damage will be covered by insurance.

Worried About Trees and Possibilities?

We can help you explore your insurance coverage and coverage options to make sure you are confident in your insurance protection no matter what life’s storms throw in your direction. Even if it happens to be a neighbor’s tree.

Otterstedt Insurance Agency has been serving the insurance needs of New Jersey homeowners for more than 100 years.

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