Many homeowners have had trees and branches come down from last week’s Nor'easter that hit Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and much of the Mid-Atlantic coast. For most of us with homeowner's policies, there may be coverage to help pay for the removal of fallen trees. But, the devil is in the details.
Not all policies are alike, so my first piece of advice is to read through your policy to see how coverage is applied to fallen trees. Most policies have a section just a couple of pages into the policy that is titled “Additional Coverages.” Here you may find if your policy contains coverage for tree removal.
But, there are a few things you show know. For instance, what is the specific terminology within your policy? Let's dive into that...
Some insurance companies pay for tree removal if the tree damages a covered structure. A structure can be a building, carport, fence, garage, deck, or a house. If the tree hits the structure, coverage for its removal exists. If it just falls to the ground without damaging anything, there is likely no coverage.
Some polices read that there is coverage if the tree damages covered property. That is a better term to have in the policy. A blade of grass is considered covered property. So, even if the tree falls on the ground without hitting a structure, there is coverage. Let's say the tree hits a swing set, a trash can, a barbecue grill or toys in the yard. All are considered covered property.
But, here's the twist: The coverage typically only pays between $500 and $1,000… regardless of the number of trees. That's the cap. However, there are some add-ons to bring to the insurance adjuster’s attention.
By the way, even if a branch scratches a structure, that is damage enough to trigger the coverage.
If the tree does hit covered property, then the policy pays to remove it from the covered property, and then applies the limits of $500-to-1000 to the removal from your property. So if you need to hire a tree removal service or someone to help you remove the tree, have them invoice you the costs to cut it up and put it on the truck separate from taking it off the property.
Here's an example:
Remove tree from fence and roof = $1,500.00
Remove tree from the premises = $500.00.
Total = $2,000.00
In the example above you can claim the full $2,000.00, not just the $500 for removal. But, it is important to have your contractor separate out the costs by task.
So, here's my advice:
1) Read your policy to determine what coverage you have.
2) Pay attention to the terminology. Does the tree have to hit a structure or just covered property in order to be covered within the policy?