Paying to repair property damage from falling trees can be expensive. Which leads to the question – who has to cover that cost?
The answer isn’t clear-cut, as several factors come into play when determining who’s financially responsible for damage from a falling tree. However, it generally comes down to ownership and insurance coverage. Here’s what you need to know.
Who Owns the Tree?
To figure out who has to pay for property damage, you need to know who owns the tree.
Ownership is based upon where the trunk sits. If the trunk is on your property, you’re the owner. Trees with trunks that are situated on your neighbor’s property are theirs – even if the foliage hangs over your lawn. When the trunk is directly on the property line, you and your neighbor are co-owners.
Is the Owner Responsible for Property Damage?
If you own a tree that falls and damages to your neighbor’s property, but you aren’t at fault – the problem resulted from a heavy storm or other “act of God” – you aren’t liable for the costs of repair. To cover the expense, your neighbor will have to file a claim with their homeowner’s insurance provider or pay out of pocket to repair the damage.
However, if it can be proven that the property damage was caused by your negligence in tree care, you could be held financially responsible.
Does Homeowner’s Insurance Always Cover Damage from Falling Trees?
Let’s say you put off removing a tree you knew was hazardous and you’re found to be liable for damage that occurred as a result of it falling. Can you rely on your homeowner’s insurance to foot the bill?
You’ll need to check the specifics of your policy. Some only cover claims that don’t involve any negligence or limit coverage to certain types of damage. Other policies pay for all property damage caused by falling trees, regardless of the cause.
Who Pays if a Falling Tree Damages a Car?
If you own both the fallen tree and the vehicle that gets damaged, your homeowner’s insurance probably won’t cover repairs. If your auto insurance includes comprehensive coverage, however, you only have to pay your deductible.
When your falling tree damages someone else’s car, your auto insurance policy may cover the repair cost if you have comprehensive coverage. However, that might not be the case if you’re found negligent.
If you aren’t liable for the vehicle damage, the car owner can turn to their own comprehensive coverage insurance. If they don’t have that type of coverage in their policy, however, the repair costs will be their responsibility.
Are any of your trees at risk of falling? A Utah certified arborist can check for structural stability and provide effective solutions – such as cabling and bracing or removal – to prevent tree hazards from creating costly property damage.
If you live in the greater Salt Lake City area, Reliable Tree Care can ensure your property is free of hazardous trees. Our certified arborist team has over 20 years of experience managing and preventing tree problems, and our services come at an affordable price.
To prevent falling trees from causing property damage, call our Murray UT office to schedule a complimentary, comprehensive yard evaluation from Reliable Tree Care.