3 On Your Side: Tree Damage, Who Pays?

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — All over the region the clean-up is underway. Homeowners dealing with branches, limbs and downed trees of every shape and size. If you’ve experienced tree damage related to Hurricane Irene, 3 On Your Side’s Jim Donovan has information on filing an insurance claim for repairs.

Trees down in yards, trees down on houses, trees on top of cars. What damage is covered by insurance and what’s not depends on a number of factors:

If YOUR tree falls on YOUR house then YOUR insurance company will pay for removal of the tree from your home, and it’s going to repair your home as well.

If YOUR tree falls on YOUR neighbors house then your NEIGHBORS homeowners policy is going to be responsible for removal and repairs. It’s considered an Act of God and your neighbor should file a claim with their insurance company, and vice versa.

If a tree falls in your yard, but doesn’t hit anything. In most cases, it’s up to you to pay for it’s removal.

If your car gets hit by a tree or damaged by flying limbs you need to file a claim against your vehicles comprehensive coverage.

By the way, if you have a tree that’s in bad shape, maybe it has stress cracks, weak branches, or hollow or decayed areas, and you don’t do anything about it, if it comes crashing down you could be held liable. So if you dodged a bullet this time around, you may want to deal with those dangerous trees now, before your luck runs out.

Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3

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  • Scott

    The neighbors’ insurance will pay if your tree falls on their house. However, they will send an investigator to evaluate if neglect pays a part. The neighbor-owner of the tree WILL get a notice (e.g. a subrogation) suing your insurance for the damage citing “negligence” whenever possible.

    We provided records of tree maintenance, and photographs of people doing maintenance on our tree I took with my cell phone as well as weather reports from the day (wind speed.) The subrogation went away.

    KEY POINT: Make great records of your tree maintenance and pay an actual arborist (not a fly-by-night) to evaluate your tree and render an opinion (every 2-3 years.) Especially if you live in a mature-tree area that gets seasonal weather.

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