Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Diseased Tree Removal?

Diseased, dying trees can be a real eyesore. You might hope that your homeowners insurance will cover their removal. Unfortunately, your homeowners insurance is very unlikely to cover dead tree removal. In the eyes of your insurance, the removal of a dead tree is considered to be the maintenance of your property, meaning that the responsibility of paying for its removal falls on your shoulders. It’s important to get diseased trees removed, as they can cause plenty of more problems than simply being an eyesore.

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Diseased Trees, and Infestations in General, Tend to Be Uncovered Perils

A peril is an event that has the potential to damage your property. Your home insurance tends to categorize perils as either being covered or uncovered. A covered peril is any damaging event that qualifies for compensation from your insurance for the damage, whereas an uncovered peril is anyone whose damage will not be compensated by the insurance. When it comes to your home, your insurance generally covers all perils, except for perils explicitly stated in a list of uncovered perils.

This might sound simple, but there are a lot of exceptions, both for covered and uncovered perils. For instance, house fires are typically a covered peril, but if the fire is a result of arson then it will not be covered.  An earthquake, which is almost never covered, can start a fire that damages your house, and that fire is likely to be covered, even though the ultimate cause of the fire was uncovered.

One thing that covered perils typically have in common, is that they are outside of the control of the homeowner. Common covered perils, such as violent winds or hailstorms, are unavoidable. Infestations, whether the disease of a tree or insects or rats in the house, are considered avoidable, as routine maintenance of your house and property can prevent these perils from occurring. In the case of a diseased tree, you are expected to have maintained your yard such that you can detect and eliminate disease before it reaches the point of killing a tree, requiring removal. Because of this, your homeowners insurance will not cover a diseased tree.

Diseased Trees, Especially Dead Ones, Must Be Dealt with as Soon as Possible

A tree that is diseased or dead poses an extreme risk to your property, and to the safety of not only you but anyone else on your property. When a tree begins to die, it starts to become unstable as it remains unable to hold itself together, potentially resulting in a collapse. If the tree is near your house or some other structure on your property, there is a very real chance that it can collapse and break any structures in its way. Often, damage due to collapsing objects is covered by insurance. However, as mentioned above, there can be exceptions to coverage, and if the insurance deems that the collapse was due to a problem that could have been avoided, it will result in a weakened claim, and you might have some or all of your claims denied by your insurance, which is not good.

If you’re lucky, a collapsed tree will only damage structures on your property. If you’re unlucky, the tree can collapse and harm someone on your property, which would make you responsible for any medical or legal costs associated with that harm. Your insurance would cover this too, but it’s not a situation you want to be in.

Your Best Strategy Is to Recognize and Treat Diseased Trees Right Away

Aside from harming structures and people, a diseased tree also has the potential of spreading the disease to other trees, or in the case that the disease is due to pest infestation, spread the infestation to your actual house. If the disease spreads to a lot of other trees on your property, you’ll have a major headache on your hands. Therefore, you’ll want to keep watch for signs of disease on your tree.

Signs of tree disease include damaged or missing bark, a lack of foliage on the branches of the tree, sections of dead wood and branches, and a leaning trunk. Abnormal leaf behavior is another sign: leaves dropping early, leaves that refuse to drop during the winter season, or abnormal coloration of the leaf can all be signs of a diseased tree. If you notice these signs, you should contact a specialist to inspect the tree, and to help come up with a plan of action to deal with the tree.

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