Extreme weather, including wind and snow storms, and the inevitable damage they cause, are common here in the Spokane area. Trees falling on homes, fences, cars and in yards can cause some serious destruction. And possibly some liability.
In this article we’ll cover the basics of what you need to know about trees, the damage they could cause and whether or not you’re covered by insurance.
If a neighbor’s tree falls and damages your property – who is responsible?
In general, the damage caused by a tree falling on your home or fence would be covered by your home owners insurance, but it depends on a number of factors, such as what caused the tree to fall and what kind of damage was caused.
If a totally healthy tree from your neighbor’s yard were to fall because of wind, the neighbor may not be liable, because they did not cause the tree to fall. The wind did. So it’s important to have your own insurance!
If the neighbor’s tree was damaged or rotting and they knew about it, they could be liable for the damage if it were to fall on your fence, car or home. Or, worse, were to injure someone. But only if there’s proof the tree was at risk of falling.
If you notice a neighbor’s tree that is close to your property looks like it’s dying or has large overhanging branches that could damage your property if there were a storm, it’s important to document it and let them know.
We recommend that you send a certified letter to the owner if you suspect one of their trees is dead or dying and is in danger of damaging your property or injuring someone should it fall. Save a copy of the letter along with the certified mailing receipt in case something happens. Documenting with photographs can help, too.
Many times liability is denied when the tree in question was in the back of a lot and the owner indicates they were unaware that it was dying or that there was any danger. Your documentation could be the difference between paying to repair your property out-of-pocket or having your neighbor (or his insurance company) take care of the situation.
Be sure to check the trees on your own property regularly and maintain them so you’re not liable if they fall because of negligence.
If a tree falls in your yard, not causing any damage, but blocking your driveway – will your insurance help?
If a tree falls in your yard, there is no coverage to remove the tree but, if it falls in your driveway and is blocking your access it could be covered. Ultimately, it depends on the policy contract and likely does have limitations. Contact us if you have any concerns about your policy or would like some clarification.
If a tree falls on your car, will your home owner’s insurance cover it?
Your homeowners insurance will not cover damage if a tree falls on your car. But, you may be able to file an auto insurance claim if you have comprehensive coverage on your car insurance policy. Comprehensive coverage typically helps pay to repair damage to your car caused by falling objects.