Philosophers might debate whether a tree falling in the woods makes a sound, but if a tree falls on your home, there is no debate. It makes the sound of money leaving your wallet. Your homeowners insurance policy will chip in to cover damages, and it might even pay to remove the fallen tree, but how much it pays depends on what kind of policy you have, your policy limits, your deductible and whether the tree actually damaged an insured structure.
Different types of homeowners insurance policies cover different events, but all of the primary types of homeowners policies cover damage caused by windstorms, hail and lightning. Broad HO-2 and Special HO-3 policies, which are the most common forms of homeowners insurance, also cover damage resulting from the weight of ice, snow or sleet. If a storm causes a tree to fall and damage your home or other insured structure, the damage is typically covered.
In addition to covering the damaged structure, your homeowners insurance policy typically covers the cost of having the fallen tree removed, up to the maximum benefit listed on your policy, which is usually between $500 to $1,000. In some cases your policy might pay to remove a fallen tree that is blocking your driveway, even if the tree didn't hit a covered structure.
No Harm, No Foul
Just because a storm blows a tree down on your property is not cause for a homeowners insurance claim. The fallen tree actually has to cause damage to a covered structure, such as your home, detached garage or fence. Most homeowners policies won't pay to clean up a fallen tree or debris that didn't cause any covered property damage.
Your homeowners insurance policy won't cover damage to your car if a tree falls on it, but the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy might. If a storm causes a tree from your yard to fall on your neighbor's home, your homeowners policy won't cover the damage, but if a tree from your neighbor's yard falls on your home, your policy will cover the damage. Each person's homeowners insurance covers her own home.
- Insurance Information Institute: If a Tree Falls on Your House, Are You Covered?
- Insurance Information Institute: Hurricane Irene FAQs: What Is Covered–Or Not–In Your Insurance Policies
- Missouri Department of Insurance: Winter Storm FAQs
- National Severe Storms Laboratory: Severe Weather 101
- Insurance Information Institute: Trees and Insurance
- Insurance Information Institute: What Types Of Disasters Are Covered By My Homeowners Insurance?
Mike Parker is a full-time writer, publisher and independent businessman. His background includes a career as an investments broker with such NYSE member firms as Edward Jones & Company, AG Edwards & Sons and Dean Witter. He helped launch DiscoverCard as one of the company's first merchant sales reps.