When we have a windstorm, one of the most common claims scenarios is damage from falling trees. Before we discuss whose insurance is responsible, let’s first look at what damages a homeowners insurance policy will pay for. A homeowners insurance policy will pay for any damage to your home, detached structures and contents (less your deductible). Your policy will only pay for debris removal (up to policy limits) if there is damage to your home or detached structures (if a tree falls in your back yard causing no damage, the cost of debris removal is not covered by your insurance policy).
So, when a tree falls, whose insurance is going to pay for the damages? The answer is actually very simple – your insurance policy pays for the damage to your home and your neighbor’s insurance policy pays for any damage to their home – regardless of whose property the tree was growing on. Here is an example – let’s say a tree in your backyard blew over on your neighbor’s home causing no damage to your home but significant damage to your neighbor’s home. You would be responsible for cleaning up the debris on your property since there was no damage to your home. Your neighbor would turn in a claim to their insurance company to cover the cost of repairs to their home as well as the cost of their debris removal.
The one exception to this rule has to do with dead, diseased, or dangerous trees. If you feel your neighbor has a tree that fits that description, you should have an arborist provide you with a report you can send via certified mail to your neighbor asking them to remove the tree. This doesn’t guarantee they will be held responsible for any damages to your home should that tree fall on your house, but it does significantly increase the odds in your favor.