Your neighbor’s tree just fell on your house… now what?

 

With living in our part of the country – we are surrounded by trees and lots of windy weather. As these trees age, or get sick, they become weaker. Storms come, 40mph wind gusts and even tornado’s threaten to take these tall wood pillars of our community straight to the ground. Unfortunately sometimes our homes, fences, cars and boats get in the way.

While insurance is there to protect your assets it can not stop nature. When nature calls it will do its bidding regardless of our plans. Therefore make sure you have the proper insurance in place to cover any losses/damage that nature makes. Oh wait… that’s why you are reading this… you want to know how to make that happen. Let’s talk about the insurance part now.

It is actually pretty simple – the first step is to determine the property damaged. For sake of simplicity let’s focus on Cars and Homes. The basic rule of insurance is that any property (i.e. cars/homes/boats) that carry their own insurance policy – under the peril ‘falling objects’. This peril is covered under Auto Insurance under the Comprehensive coverage. Under Home Insurance if you have a comprehensive/broad form policy – you probably are covered. If you don’t know if your policy covers ‘falling objects’ now is a good time to contact your agent. Or after you finish reading this post…. either way. You would pay your deductible and the insurance company would cover any cost of repairs beyond your deductible. However if only minor damage you might not want to file a claim – example if your deductible is $1000 and it only costs $1500 for complete repair – the insurance company is only going to issue you a check for $500. You could face potential increases on your premium for the next 5 years stemming from that claim. Keep it in mind, and talk to your agent, to see if or how a claim might affect your policy. We have carriers that have claims forgiveness for our long term clients.

What is actually covered under the claim? Well if the tree fell onto your car or home – the insurance company would typically pay for the removal of the tree along with any damaged to your property. Depending on your policy the insurance company will pay for either complete reconstruction of your home or they will pay a portion (market value) of the damages factoring in depreciation. (Another great reason to review your policy with your agent.)

 

Now for the big question…. “But it wasn’t my tree that fell! I want their insurance to pay, I shouldn’t have to pay a deductible!” Well – if that is what you are thinking you are not alone. Most folks feel that way. However the way insurance contractually is written – it is designed to cover YOUR property and not your neighbors. That means that your policy is designed to cover any losses to your property. So if a tree, any tree (‘falling object’), damages your property your insurance will cover your damages. This means that the tree could be your neighbors tree and crashes onto your house – your insurance is still the party that will pay. Typically the exception to this rule is if the tree is dead. This is up to your insurance company and claim’s adjusters to determine and figure out. Forewarning though – it is not common. For this to apply there has to be proof that the tree is dead AND your neighbor knew it was dead and was negligent. By failing to take down or remove the dead tree they would be negligent. But you have to prove they knew it was dead. Proof is very hard to provide. Typically you need signed documents, pictures, statements or other legal documents. Verbal conversations are he said vs she said and don’t bode well during a claims process.

OK, so now you know that if a tree falls on your property, your insurance pays to make it right. Your next step should be to review your policy. If don’t understand the lingo on your contact your agent and review your policy. You can also contact our agency. We are always glad to assist in reviewing policies for coverage or ‘gaps’ in your coverage. Our goal is to educate and make sure everyone is covered properly.

 

For additional information, contact us at 330-818-7599, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/FarmersHyre

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