Q: We had some strong winds in my neighborhood the other night, and I woke up to a downed tree that fell straight into the house. Nobody was hurt, it hit an area near the kitchen and garage where nobody was at the time. Still, the damage to our house was significant. Do I contact my insurance carrier about this?
We posed this question to Christian Slayton, a Farmers Insurance® agent-based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here’s what she had to say about fallen trees.
A: What a relief to know no one was hurt. Still, I can imagine how stressful this situation is for you. Fortunately, homeowners insurance should cover the damage in most cases, so you can breathe a bit easier. A disaster like this is why property owners carry insurance coverage in the first place.
If a tree on your property falls on your house during a storm, for example, your homeowners insurance would likely cover the damage to your house caused by the tree. You would need to file a claim with your insurance carrier. As an agent, I tell customers I work with to start with me, and I walk them through the process. But these days filing a claim can be even simpler, at Farmers, you can do it online or from your mobile phone.
If your neighbor’s tree falls during a storm and damages your house, you should still be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. However, if the tree fell because it was dead and rotting, you might possibly make a case that your neighbor is responsible for any damages due to negligent upkeep. Keep in mind, this is very difficult to prove and would require documented proof that you had asked the neighbor to remove the dead tree before it eventually fell.
On the other side of the coin, if your tree falls and damages your neighbor’s house, their homeowners insurance would cover the damage. But again, if your neighbor can prove you were negligent in not removing the tree, you could be determined to be liable for the damage yourself.
No, your homeowners policy wouldn’t cover the damage to your automobile. In this case, you’d need to file a claim with your auto insurance. Whether that is covered would depend on if you have purchased comprehensive coverage on your auto policy, subject to policy terms and exclusions.
Again, I’m sorry to hear about the damage to your house, but I hope you can rest a bit easier knowing you likely have coverage. As always, if you want to learn more about your homeowners insurance coverage, I’d encourage you to reach out to your agent, make an appointment to go over your policies and coverage limits.
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