Trees Downed By Storms

Many people have had trees or tree branches, downed due to storm activity recently.  Homeowners insurance policies may cover some of the costs involved in the clean up.  While policy coverages vary from company to company some of the things discussed in this article are common to most homeowner insurance policy coverages.  The coverage will depend on the specifics of the downed tree.  HOW it came down and WHERE or WHAT it landed on.  IF the tree is struck by lightning, then most insurance policies will “pay” for the repair, or removal of that tree, up to $500 or in some cases $1,000.  If the tree is damaged or blown down by wind, tornado or hurricane, then the policy will generally only respond by a $500 PER TREE removal coverage.  In most cases, the policy will also limit tree removal coverage to $500 or $1,000 PER STORM.  So if you are unfortunate to have many blown down trees your policy will pay a small amount to have those trees cut up and removed.  In almost every case, if the tree hits your house, or barn, or shed, or a fence, or swimming pool, no matter if by lightning or wind, the structure it hits will be covered AND the part of the tree that hit the structure can be covered to be removed.  Be careful about unattached structures, be it a barn, shed, or detached garage, if that building is used in any way for, or by a business, then your homeowner policy may not cover that building AT ALL.  You also want to be careful with autos.  Any auto, including motor homes, camper trailers, pop-up campers, ATVs, and motorcycles are not covered by homeowners insurance.  They must be covered by an auto policy and have physical damage coverage or “comprehensive” or “comp” coverage to collect for repairs to that vehicle. 
So what happens if a tree from your yard blows over and smashes your neighbors shed, or fence, or hits thier house?  Who’s insurance pays for those repairs?  The answer is your neighbors insurance will respond to that situation.  It doesn’t matter if it was caused by wind or lightning.  Think about it.  It is not your negligence the wind blew a perfectly healthy tree over on your neighbors house.  What if the wind was blowing the other direction and it hit your house?  This is why we purchase home insurance, to pay for damage to your house from a tree blown down on it.  Think of it this way, if a strong tornado picked up a tree from 2 blocks away and threw the tree down on your house, are you going to investigate where that tree came from so the guilty party can pay up?  Of course not, it was an act of nature, just as wind, and lightning, and trees, are an act of nature.  Where a tree falls cannot possibly be controlled or predicted during a storm.

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