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Trees come with risk.

While tall trees provide a wonderful canopy, excellent shade, and natural beauty, they can also present a costly and dangerous problem when they fall. Today, we’ll break down everything you need to know about tree-related coverage.

What happens when a tree falls on your home?

Typically, the insurance policy of the damaged property pays for the repairs. So, if your neighbor’s tree ends up on your house or another insured structure on your property, your homeowner’s policy should cover the loss.

What happens when a tree falls and hits nothing?

The removal of a large tree can be very expensive, and most homeowner’s insurance policies won’t cover the cost of removing the debris if no insured structures are damaged.

Where do deductibles fit in?

Typically, a $500 or $1,000 deductible is what you assume as your portion of the risk of property ownership. It acts as a sort of incentive for homeowners to take care of their property and avoid loss claims. But when it’s your neighbor’s tree that does the damage, and you have to absorb the deductible, it can seem unfair—especially since there is very little you can do to manage the risk.

 How can you be prepared?

Keep an eye out for trees that look ready to fall or drop large, damaging branches. Politely ask your neighbor to remove dead limbs and threatening trees. As this can be costly, folks sometimes push back.

Many towns hold homeowners responsible for maintaining their trees and ensuring they do not cause safety issues. Some cities even have ordinances that require dangerous trees to be removed. Check with your municipality about enforcement.

As a last resort, consult an attorney who can advise you of your options.

What can you do once it’s too late?

Contact your insurance broker right away. If the damage to your house is bad enough, you may need to shelter elsewhere. Ask if your homeowner’s insurance covers these expenses and how you can exercise the benefits under your policy.

If there is serious damage to your home, you will be expected to take measures to prevent further losses, such as rain or pest infestation. Your insurance professional can advise you on the steps you should take based on the requirements in your homeowner’s policy.

You can also expect to have an adjuster inspect the damage. The adjuster will conduct a thorough review of what needs to be repaired and replaced, from roofing materials to beds and personal items.

If a crane is needed to remove a tree from your home, you should talk to your broker before contracting that service. Prices can vary widely, and some homeowner’s policies put a limit on those costs.

Tree damage is serious. It can be deadly, expensive, and highly inconvenient. Make sure your home and any structures like guesthouses or swimming pools are insured for damage.

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