Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tree Removal Costs?
A home insurance policy covers different types of damage to a home. Although these policies aren’t required by law, your mortgage lender will require a policy to protect their investment. But home insurance protects you, too.
In the event of a disaster, it can cost thousands to repair your home or completely rebuild it. Home insurance reduces this financial burden.
But even though home insurance helps financially after a disaster, it doesn’t only protect against major incidents. It also covers small incidents related to a covered peril.
However, what if a tree falls on your property or home? Does your home insurance company cover the cost of tree removal?
Here’s what you need to know about home insurance including how it covers tree removal.
Does Home Insurance Cover Tree Removal Cost?
If a tree falls on your property or home, you’ll need to call a tree removal company as soon as possible. Depending on the size of the tree, it might be impossible to remove yourself.
But even though home insurance protects against losses and damages, you might ask:
Does it include the cost of tree removal?
The answer, however, isn’t a simple yes or no.
It depends on the circumstances surrounding a tree falling.
Reason for the fallen tree
If a tree falls as the result of a covered peril, then yes, your home insurance company will likely cover the tree removal cost.
For example, let’s say your policy covers windstorms. If a hurricane, tornado, or other storm knocks down a tree—and it falls on your home—you can file a claim with your insurance provider for its removal.
This protection falls under your dwelling coverage. You can also file a claim if a tree falls on other structures, as well as a personal vehicle.
When a tree falls on your home and other structures, your insurance covers both the removal and repair costs. But if a tree falls on your vehicle, you’ll need to file a claim with your auto insurance provider.
Dealing with the neighbors
What if a tree falls on your neighbor's property or vice versa? Who pays in this situation?
In this scenario, it depends on the property line and the location of the tree.
If a tree on your property falls into your neighbor’s yard, your home insurance policy covers the damage. Likewise, if your neighbor’s tree falls onto your property, their insurance covers the damage.
When Doesn’t Home Insurance Cover Tree Removal?
Although home insurance covers the cost of tree removal, it doesn’t under certain circumstances.
For example, your provider won’t cover the cost when a peril excluded from your policy causes the fall.
When you file a claim, your provider will send an insurance adjuster to your home. It’s their job to determine “why” the tree fell. This is how your insurance company determines whether to pay a claim.
Providers don’t cover tree removal costs when a tree falls due to neglect or wood rot.
Keep in mind, too, that your provider might not pay the removal cost when a tree falls away from your home and doesn’t cause any structural damage. You might have several trees on the property, yet none of them are near your home or detached structures.
Also, your provider will not cover tree removal when an earthquake or flood causes a fall.
Standard home insurance policies do not cover flood damage or earthquake damage. If you live in an area prone to floods or earthquakes, you’ll need additional riders. This is extra coverage you can buy.
You can get flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program. Or add a flood rider to your existing policy.
You can also add an earthquake rider to your policy to protect against earthquakes and other earth movements. These include sinkholes and mudslides.
What to Know About Deductibles
Even when a covered peril causes a tree to fall, it doesn’t always make sense to file a claim.
Home insurance policies have deductibles. This is what you pay out-of-pocket before your provider pays a claim.
Insurance deductibles vary. Your deductible can be as low as $500, or as high as several thousand dollars. Some homeowners choose a higher deductible to pay a lower premium. For example, according to Insure.com the average annual cost of homeowners insurance nationally for a policy with $300,000 coverage and $1,000 deductible is $2,540.
Be mindful that some damages or losses might cost less than your deductible, or only slightly more. In this case, it might be cheaper to pay the cost out-of-pocket. This can happen with tree removal depending on the size of the tree, and the number of trees removed.
The cost of tree removal varies from company to company. For the most part, though, it is relatively inexpensive—sometimes only costing a few hundred dollars per tree.
Here’s how deductibles work:
If you have a $500 home insurance deductible, and it's $700 to remove two trees, your insurance company will send a check for $200.
On the other hand, if you have a $500 deductible and it’s $350 to remove one tree, your insurance provider doesn’t pay the claim. In this scenario the cost to remove is less than your out-of-pocket responsibility.
Filing a home insurance claim can trigger a premium increase--especially if you’ve had other claims in the recent past.
So if the cost of tree removal is only slightly more than your deductible, it might be better to pay the entire cost yourself and not file a claim.
But if a fallen tree causes significant damage to your home or property, it’s definitely worth filing a claim to fix the damage. The repair cost will likely exceed your insurance deductible.
How to Prevent a Tree From Falling
Here are a few tips to protect your home from falling trees:
Plant trees away from the home
If you’re thinking about planting trees, position them away from the home. This not only reduces the likelihood of a tree falling on the home, it also protects the home’s foundation from root damage.
Inspect your trees
After a major rain or winter storm, walk around the property and inspect your trees for signs of damage. Look for hanging branches, broken limbs, and leaning. A leaning tree is a cause for concern. It can potentially fall during a windstorm.
Contact a tree removal expert for advice.
Maintain your trees
Keeping your trees healthy helps them withstand high winds.
This includes treating tree diseases, infestations, and evenly pruning. This makes the trees more wind resistant, allowing them to withstand strong storms.
Monitor the ground
Keep in mind, too, that trees located in soggy parts of the yard might fall after heavy rain or strong winds. Constant moisture can weaken a tree’s root system.
To protect your property, contact a landscaper to improve the drainage around your trees. Or if necessary, remove trees located in problem spots.
Trees are often strong and sturdy. But sometimes, they’re unable to withstand strong winds or fall for other reasons.
A home insurance policy covers the cost of tree removal under certain circumstances, mainly when a covered peril causes the fall. Make sure you familiarize yourself with your policy before filing a claim.