We often get this question. When a tree falls and causes damage to someone's property, most people automatically think the person's home insurance that owns the tree pays. But that's not usually the case.
Every insurance policy is different and the factors that play a role in a claim vary too. Having said that, when severe weather hits, your damaged property is typically covered under your own homeowners policy. Likewise, if a tree hits your car, that damage is typically covered by the comprehensive coverage of your car insurance policy, if you opted to have it.
Sometimes liability can be an issue if the owner of the tree has not properly maintained it and it is diseased or dead. That's why it's a really good idea to maintain the trees on your property and treat or remove ones that are diseased or dead. Can you spot the tree on this property that needs to be removed?
Whatever your situation, the best thing is for both you and your neighbor to report the damage to your insurance companies and allow adjusters to review the details. There are immediate steps you should take. These are also appropriate if your own tree falls on your house or property.
Steps to take after a tree causes damage:
- If there are any injuries or utility emergencies, call 911!
- Talk with your neighbor if necessary and explain you are reporting the incident to your insurance company and tell them they should do the same.
- Report the claim to NNINS. You can do so by calling our 24/7 claims hotline 1-877-968-7252.
- Take pictures and/or video with your cell phone. The more the better, from up close to further away and before any efforts have been made to clean up the damage and remove the tree.
- If the damage is to your home or car, take immediate measures just to protect your property from further damage. Contact a reputable licensed contractor for those repairs. Save any receipts for supplies or work.
- If your home is unlivable, secure your property as much as possible, including boarding up windows and tarping open damage. You may contract this work as well but speak to your adjuster or claims representative first. Save all receipts. Relocate to a safe place and save all receipts for living accommodations, gas, food, and other necessities.
- Prepare a written inventory of damaged property to match pictures.
- Do not dispose of any damaged property until your adjuster has visited.
- If the tree belongs to you, get written estimates from a reputable certified tree removal service.
- Avoid drive-by solicitations for cheap tree removal- this is very common after a severe weather event in the area.
- Continue communication with your adjuster about the progress of your claim and provide any requested documentation.
If you have questions, your independent agent is an excellent resource. You can also give us a call and we'll help you through it. You can try to prevent damage during severe weather by checking on your own trees and doing regular maintenance. It's also a good idea to build rapport with your neighbors to ease communication about concerning trees in your neighborhood.