A fallen tree can significantly damage your home and other property. Homeowners insurance will likely cover the damage caused by the tree, but you may wonder if your policy will cover the cost of removing it. The answer is: It depends.
Does homeowners insurance cover tree removal?
If a tree falls for a reason covered by your policy, like strong winds or lightning, and damages your home, garage or other insured structures, your home insurance will likely cover the cost to remove the tree as well as the damage to your home.
There’s usually a limit to how much your insurance company will pay to remove debris, which includes fallen trees. This limit is typically around $500 to $1,000.
When doesn’t home insurance cover tree removal?
Home insurance won’t always pay for tree removal. Here are a few scenarios where you’re unlikely to have coverage.
No damage to property
If a tree falls as a result of snow, wind, hail or another covered event, but doesn’t damage structures such as your home or fence, you’ll likely be responsible for the cost of removing it.
One common exception is if the tree is blocking your driveway or a wheelchair ramp. In this case, your insurance may help cover the cost of removal.
Preventive tree removal
Home insurance normally won’t cover the cost of removing trees that pose no immediate threat to your property. This includes clearing sick or dying trees to prevent possible future damage. That’s considered part of your responsibility as a homeowner.
Events not covered by your policy
If a tree falls due to an event not covered by your policy, like a flood, earthquake or mudslide, you may need to pay for the removal out of your own pocket. It will likely not be covered by insurance.
How much does tree removal cost?
You can expect to pay between $200 and $2,000 for tree removal. The exact price depends on the size of the tree, its location and job complexity. For example, trees under 30 feet may cost $200 to $450 to remove, while trees over 80 feet can cost $1,000 to $2,000 or more, depending on whether a crane is needed.
Even smaller trees can be expensive to remove if they’re near buildings, power lines or other structures. Similarly, trees with multiple branches or pest infestations can increase the total expense.
Weigh the cost of removal against your home insurance deductible, which is the amount you pay out of pocket before insurance covers the rest. If the cost of removing the tree isn’t much higher than your deductible, it may make sense to pay out of pocket instead of filing a claim. That way you can avoid premium increases or losing any claim-free discounts you might have.
Does home insurance cover damage caused by your neighbor’s tree?
If your neighbor’s tree falls onto your property and damages your home or another insured structure, like a garage or fence, you’ll typically need to file a claim with your own home insurance. Your insurance should cover the damage and removal costs, even if the tree was on your neighbor’s property.
If your neighbor’s tree was dead, diseased or poorly maintained and it falls on your property, your neighbor may be liable for the damages and removal costs. However, proving your neighbor knew the tree posed a risk before it fell can be a challenge. If you have proof that you informed your neighbor about the tree’s condition before it fell, it can strengthen your case. An example of proof would be a certified letter from a tree expert stating the tree needs to be removed.
Does homeowners insurance cover tree damage to your neighbor’s property?
If a tree on your property falls and damages your neighbor’s house, their insurance policy should cover the cost of repairing the damage. You shouldn’t need to file a claim with your own insurance.
That said, you could be responsible for the removal if your neighbor told you the tree was at risk of damaging their property and they have a paper trail to prove it. This could be considered negligence on your part.
What if a tree lands on your car?
Home insurance generally won’t cover a tree crashing onto your car. Instead, this type of situation falls under your auto insurance policy. If you have comprehensive auto insurance, it should cover the damage from the fallen tree. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage from non-collision events, like storms, falling trees, theft and vandalism. You may be responsible for the damage if you don’t have comprehensive coverage.
How to protect your home from tree damage
If you have trees on your property, these tips can help protect your home from damage:
Regularly inspect your trees. Look for signs of damage or disease, such as cracks, splits or dead branches. If you notice any issues, consider hiring a professional arborist to take care of the problem.
Trim your trees. Regular pruning can prevent branches from falling and damaging your home. Remove any dead or diseased branches, and trim trees so the remaining branches are a safe distance away from power lines and other structures. You may want to hire an arborist to trim branches near power lines.
Choose the right trees. Consider the size and location carefully when planting new trees. Ensure the tree is appropriate for the space and won’t cause damage to your home or other structures as it grows.