Yes, homeowners insurance covers fallen tree damage and removal in many cases. For example, if lightning strikes a tree and it falls and lands on a covered structure, your homeowners insurance company will likely pay to repair the damage and remove the tree. The key factors are whether it fell due to a covered peril and if you have coverage for anything the tree’s fall damaged.
For a fallen tree to be eligible for coverage, its demise must have been due to a covered peril. Under a homeowners insurance policy, a covered peril is an accidental event that occurs suddenly, such as a storm. However, if the tree falls because of poor maintenance, an insurance adjuster will look at the cause more carefully, and if he or she determines the tree fell due to a non-covered reason, the claim can be denied.
If the tree fell due to a covered peril, its removal will be covered. However, if it damages part of your property, that damage is covered only if your policy includes the specific structure or item damaged.
For example, if a storm blows down a tree and it damages your home’s roof, the insurance company will likely pay for the roof repair less your deductible. On the other hand, if you have a detached shed that you never included on your policy, repair, and replacement may be at your expense.
Does It Matter Who Owns the Tree?
Trees do not stop at property lines when they fall. So a neighbor’s tree may damage your property and vice versa.
For example, your neighbor’s tree could fall onto your fence or other covered structure on your property. In that case, you would file a claim with your insurance company to cover the damage. On the other hand, your neighbor’s tree may have fallen onto your property because it was dead or rotting. In that instance, your insurance company may cover your damages but try to collect reimbursement from your neighbor’s insurance company because of neglect. Known as a subrogation, this policy of reimbursement has a benefit to the policyholder: if your insurer wins reimbursement, you no longer bear responsibility for your deductible.
Situations Where Home Insurance Won’t Cover Fallen Tree Damage
Homeowners insurance coverage for fallen tree damage hinges partly on why the tree fell. Here are some instances where your fallen tree damages may be ineligible for coverage:
The Tree Was Dead Or Diseased
Trees age and rot over time. Homeowners insurance companies consider removing trees in poor condition a maintenance responsibility of the property owner. If a neglected tree falls, the insurance company can deny the claim, leaving the property owner responsible.
Flood and Earthquake Damage
Homeowners insurance policies specifically exclude coverage for damage due to floods or earthquakes. Because they are excluded perils, you are on your own for damages caused by any fallen trees due to flooding or ground shifts. However, you can purchase separate flood- or earthquake insurance. These policies will cover fallen trees due to those causes, though their deductibles are often very high.
The Tree Fell on Your Car
Homeowners policies never cover damage to your vehicle, even if it was caused by a covered peril, such as a storm. However, your auto insurance will pay for any damages to your vehicle, so you still have coverage if a tree falls on your car.
Fallen trees damage property from time to time. Unfortunately for homeowners, large trees cause large damage when they fall on homes or other structures. In most cases, homeowners insurance pays for the damages. The exceptions are when the tree’s fall was not the result of a covered peril, it fell because of a flood or earthquake or hit a structure or item excluded from homeowners insurance.