Does Insurance Pay to Remove a Fallen Tree?
Did a tree fall on your property? Did it damage a home, garage or fence? Insurance might pay for tree removal. It depends on the policy and the type of accident. To find out for sure, ask your insurance agent.
Weather has been crazy this winter. Lots of Portland’s trees took a hit. It’s important to understand how insurance works before you call a tree removal company.
Each policy is different, but here’s how things often work when a tree falls on your property.
Am I covered by my homeowner’s insurance if a tree falls on my house?
In most cases the answer is yes. If one of Oregon’s wind storms knocks down a tree, chances are you’re covered.
When a healthy tree falls because of weather, fire or another type of accident, a homeowner’s policy will often pay for its removal. It may also cover repairs to your home.
There are exceptions. If the tree was rotting or damaged before the storm, insurance might not pay. Your insurance might determine that you should have removed the tree. It could conclude you were negligent. When trees are not cared for, they are likely to fall. Insurance won’t pay if your tree should have been removed earlier.
My insurance company told me I need to use a tree company with the lowest of three bids. Is this true?
In Oregon, you don’t have to accept the lowest bid. You can use the tree company of your choice. You are not required to use a company suggested by your insurance company.
Plus, after a natural disaster, be careful who you hire. Untrustworthy people take advantage of homeowners. Don’t hire a tree care company based only on bids. Be sure you work with a certified, insured business.
You only need to get one bid. If you know the company you want to hire, call them. Inexpensive Tree Care will write your estimate in the proper way so your insurance will accept it.
(Note: Rules in the State of Washington are different.)
If a tree falls on my house or another structure, do I have to wait for the insurance company to send an adjuster?
No, not in most cases. Safety requires that you get a tree off your house, deck, garage or fence quickly. Your insurance company recognizes that. Plus, quick removal prevents more damage. After a tree falls, call your insurance company. Get a claim number. Take pictures. Call Inexpensive Tree Care and have the tree removed. Don’t wait and don’t go near the tree.
If a tree falls but doesn’t cause damage, will insurance pay for the cleanup?
A tree usually must fall on an insured structure to qualify for coverage. If the tree falls causing no damage, you’ll need to foot the bill for removal.
What if a neighbor’s tree falls on my house?
Your insurance should still pay. It’s doesn’t matter who owns the tree. The important thing is the damage caused by the accident. If a tree lands on your insured building or structure, your homeowner’s insurance goes into effect.
Most insurance only covers removal to the property line. It doesn’t matter if your tree falls on your neighbor’s house, or if a neighbor’s tree falls on your house. The property line determines whose insurance is responsible.
What happens if one of my trees damages a neighbor’s property?
If your tree crashes into a neighbor’s house, they will file a claim with their company. You could be responsible if you were negligent. If you have a tree that’s hazardous because it’s rotting, you should have it removed before it causes harm. Depending where you live and the location of the tree, you may need a permit to remove a tree.
Who is responsible if one of my trees falls into a public street?
Most cities take care of trees that fall in a street. Check with your city for the rules in your area. You may need to pay for removal if the tree is partially on your property. You can learn more here about the city of Portland’s trees.
What if a tree falls and ruins my garden?
Usually, a tree has to damage an insured structure to qualify for coverage. If the tree destroys plants or landscaping, insurance probably won’t pay for the removal. Damage to your landscaping most likely won’t be covered. Structures such as fences, detached garages and some outbuildings may be covered.
Updated Feb. 1, 2017. Originally published Feb. 15, 2016.