So…You bought a home on Cape Cod. What YOU Need to know about Tree Damage & Your Homeowners Insurance!
Cape Cod is a marvelous place and we all feel very blessed to live in this little slice of heaven. Living near the ocean does come with some perils however, and tree damage is one of them. When a tree falls, especially if it’s your neighbors tree, there is often confusion as to who is responsible for what. Let’s alleviate some of this confusion.
When a tree falls on a house, the first thing most homeowners wonder is whether their insurance will cover the damage. Fortunately, they do, and the coverage inclusions are clear. If a tree falls on a home or other insured property structure, a homeowners insurance policy provides coverage for the structure itself and the items inside of it. This type of coverage includes trees that fall due to hail, lightning or wind.
The fallen tree does not have to be owned by the policyholder for a claim to be approved. For example, if a tree owned by a neighbor falls over the property line onto a policyholder’s home, the affected homeowner’s policy will cover the damage. The affected homeowner must simply file a claim with his or her insurance company. Trees, branches and shrubbery have a tendency to become hazardous objects during storms, and insurance companies are aware of this fact. This is why they do not conduct extensive investigations to figure out exactly where the offending tree or shrub came from. Their duty is to assess the damage, figure out the reimbursement cost and issue a check.
In some cases, the insurance company may try to collect money from a neighbor’s insurer. This process is called subrogation, and it is usually initiated when the insurer feels that the offending tree was not kept well. However, this is the insurance company’s job. If the company is successful in proving the tree was poorly maintained, the policyholder affected by the damage may receive a reimbursement for his or her deductible amount.
If a tree falls on a home or insured structure, there is also coverage for the cost to remove the tree. Reimbursement numbers may vary from one insurance company to another. The amount also varies depending on the type of policy chosen. However, if a tree does not affect a home or structure, there is usually no reimbursement for damage or removal. Some insurance companies may extend special coverage for trees blocking driveways or handicapped ramps.
In addition to the previous coverage inclusions, standard homeowners insurance policies allow protection for tree damage due to theft, explosion, fire, lightning, vandalism, malicious mischief and vehicles owned by others. However, coverage is usually limited to a small percentage of the amount of insurance on the home or other property structures. Shrubbery and trees grown for business purposes require special business insurance policies.
If you have any questions on your insurance policy or would like to discuss options for coastal homeowners insurance, contact Rogers & Gray.