Binge-watching your favorite show only to be startled by a loud thud? You walk out and discover your neighbor’s tree has fallen on the corner of your home. You can see some damage, plus you have to figure out how to get this massive tree moved. You begin to add up the costs and wonder who is responsible and most importantly, who will pay.
You may be shocked to discover, although it is your neighbor’s tree, it’s on your property now and your responsibility.
If a tree falls on your property, such as a fence, garage, or part of your home, you may have coverage. According to iii.org, if a tree lands on your home, you can file a claim with your insurance company.
After a hurricane or windstorm, trees, shrubs, and branches can become projectiles capable of traveling significant distances and of causing considerable damage to property. In most cases, an insurance company is not going to spend time trying to figure out where a tree or branches originally came from.
If a tree hits an insured structure, a homeowner’s policy covers the cost of removing the tree, generally up to about $500 to $1,000, depending on the insurer and the type of policy purchased. In some situations, if the fallen tree was located on a neighbor’s property, your insurance company may try to collect from the neighbor’s insurance company in a process called subrogation. If this happens and your insurer is successful, you may be reimbursed for your deductible.
Keep in mind, however, if the tree falls and causes no damage, most homeowners’ policies do not have coverage for tree debris removal. Meaning you will be responsible for the cost of removal. There is a caveat to this in certain scenarios. If the tree is blocking a driveway, there may be some coverage available.
Keep Your Trees Beautiful
To prevent damage to your own or your neighbors, it’s up to you to maintain the health of trees and other landscaping. If you fail to maintain your trees, you could be responsible for any ensuing damage. Removing a tree before it causes damage, can save you from a major headache later down the road.
Is my tree dead? It may look like it’s dead, but it could also be dormant. Or maybe only a section of the tree is dead, with just a few branches affected. Fortunately, there are some telltale symptoms of a dying tree you can look for to get an idea of what may be going on. However, both Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist at Tree Care Industry Association, and Gary Robertson, owner of Yellow Ribbon Tree Experts, note that each genus of the tree will show it is dying in different ways.
Trees can be hollow without the tree being dead. The question, though, is if the tree can be structurally sound while hollow. Robertson says that a tree that is more than 40-percent hollow could be an issue.
“If there’s more than 40-percent of that meat — and that’s what we call the wood of the tree — gone, it becomes what we call a high-risk,” Robertson says. “It doesn’t mean that it is dead, because it may not be. It means that it could be a high risk of falling.”
“Always hire an arborist who is certified by the International Society of Arboriculture. Being certified is a sign that they are trained and knowledgeable in all aspects of tree care and committed to proper tree maintenance. When hiring an arborist ask the following: Are they licensed (some states and cities require this)? Can they prove they possess liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance?” Pete Smith | Arbor Day Foundation.
How to Get Rid of Cut-Down Trees
The decision has been made to remove a tree, and the deed is done. Now you need to figure out what to do with cut-up trees. As with any cleanup, there are plenty of options to dispose of the yard waste:
- Grind the wood into mulch
- Chop it into firewood
- Sell it to a sawmill
- Rent a yard waste dumpster
Check out this yard waste disposal guide for more tips and removal options for your dead tree.
The Bottom Line
If you have a tree that needs to go, get rid of it as soon as possible. But what happens when a neighbor has a tree that needs to come down? You do have some recourse. If asking politely gets you nowhere. Try sending a certified letter requesting the tree to be removed. The certified letter is for a situation where you can visibly see that your neighbor’s tree is dead and could potentially fall and damage your property. You would send your neighbor a certified letter asking them to remove the tree and then let your town know of the situation so they are informed. This way, if the tree did fall, you have a better case against your neighbor because the tree fell due to negligence on your neighbors part.
As always, if you have any questions about what coverage you have on your homeowner’s policy. Give us a call, we would love to help!