The recent storm activity has caused widespread damage in our community. When there is storm damage, we are often asked if insurance might cover damage caused by trees or the trees themselves. While we can’t predict what your particular insurer or policy covers, we reached out to Josh Jones with CoVerica to answer some common questions*.
* – The information below is mainly from the Texas Office of Public Insurance Counsel, and may not be applicable in other states or to your situation. Contact your insurance agent or carrier for answers to your specific questions.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tree Care?
Homeowners policies generally do NOT cover tree care. However, some carriers do offer coverage to replace or repair trees, shrubs, plants, and lawns after a covered loss.
My Tree Blew Over, Does Insurance Cover Removal?
Most carriers will only pay up $1,000 to remove a fallen tree, and only if the tree is blocking your driveway. If a tree damages a covered item, such as your house, the insurance company may pay to remove the tree. You can at least expect them to pay to get the tree off of the damaged item. Some high-value providers may cover as much as $1,500 for the removal of fallen trees, even if the fallen tree does not damage your property or block driveway.
A Neighbor’s Tree Fell on My House/Car; Who Is Responsible?
There are 2 possible scenarios that may apply:
- If a storm blows over your neighbor’s tree, they are not liable. This is considered an act of nature, and your homeowners policy will take care of it.
- If your neighbor neglected their tree, they are liable for damages and their homeowners insurance policy should pay for damages. An example of negligence could be if their tree needed treatment, pruning, or complete removal, prior to the incident.
- If it causes damage, insurance will pay to move the tree off of the damaged area, but not to have the tree hauled away.
- Payment is based on liability coverage, which means the tree’s owner will need to be considered negligent and liable for the damages.
I Know Trees Are Valuable to My Property; Is This Considered Part of My Homeowners Policy?
In general, NO. But there is coverage afforded on many high-value homeowners policies.
For example, one high-value provider covers 5% of the insured value of the home for landscaping (trees, shrubs, plants and lawn) or up to $5000 for any 1 plant.
What Are the Requirements for Insurance When I Have a Tree with Branches over My Roof?
Trees with branches that extend over the roofline may damage the roof if they break and fall on the home. Additionally, trees can cause wear on roof surfaces if they rub against the house. With new home insurance policies, an inspector will mandate overhanging branches be trimmed back. Existing home insurance policies may exclude coverage caused by the tree if damages occur as a result of negligent or improper pruning and maintenance.
When Is Tree/Debris Removal Covered by Insurance?
Typically, removal is only covered when the tree or debris damages something (home, detached structure, or vehicle). However, high value home policies may not make this exclusion. This is one fundamental difference between a “named peril” policy (covering listed events, such as storm damage) and an “open peril” policy (with broader coverage).
What Is the Maximum Replacement Value for Lost Landscape?
This is carrier-specific. Some carriers provide a specific coverage allowance for landscaping, while others include it with home contents or personal property. (Some providers cover up to 5% of the insured value of the home for landscaping.)
Josh Jones is Assistant Vice President at CoVerica. He is a hybrid agent, specializing in both commercial and personal coverage. If you have specific questions, get in touch with Josh, and he can evaluate your current policy and make some recommendations if you want to modify your coverage for the future.
At Texas Tree Surgeons, we love trees and we love our customers, and we hope this information provides a basis for understanding how insurance may (or may not) cover your trees. As always, if you have any questions about your trees, or want an arborist to come out and take a look, let us know!