Second only to the question of the sound of a tree falling in a forest is who’s on the hook when a tree falls across a property line. But the answer is fairly straightforward, at least from an insurance perspective.
If your neighbor’s property is damaged by your tree, then they should file a claim with their insurance company. If the tree damages their house or other structures (such as a garage, shed or fence), their homeowners policy will generally pay to fix the damage. If the tree damages your neighbor’s car, then their auto insurance policy’s comprehensive coverage usually pays to repair it.
But a tree owner isn’t necessarily in the clear. If the tree owner is negligent in caring for the tree, sometimes the insurance company may seek reimbursement from the tree property owner’s insurer in a process called subrogation. This can happen if the tree was in poor health or not properly maintained. “If your insurer is successful in the subrogation process, you may be reimbursed for the deductible paid for the claim,” Friedlander said.
In addition to the cost of repairing an insured structure, Friedlander said homeowners policies may contribute to the cost of removing the tree itself, typically up to $500 to $1,000, depending on the insurer and the policy. But if the tree didn’t cause damage to a structure, the policy will usually not cover debris removal. In some instances, however, such as when the felled tree blocks a driveway or a ramp for the disabled, some insurers may cover that removal cost.
If you have a situation with a tree and would like help clarifying who pays for what, give us a call at 903-212-2000. We will be happy to help you out.