Thursday's violent storms should be a caution to homeowners. You can be liable for damage if your dying or damaged tree falls on a neighbor's property. However, if a healthy tree is struck by lightning or uprooted by fierce winds, it's considered an act of God and you won't be liable.
Courtesy of Kate Neiheisel
Tri-State homeowners are picking up the debris left behind after Thursday's severe weather. Some of that includes fallen trees.
So it got us thinking: When a tree falls during a storm, who pays for the cleanup?
Depends on where the tree falls:
Insurance will pay for a downed tree only if it hits something, unless you have a separate landscaping policy.
And if your neighbor's tree fell on your driveway or lawn, the law says you clean it up: Sorry, he or she is not responsible.
Should you call your insurance company?
It all depends on how much it will cost to clean up, whether it's even covered by insurance and whether you made a claim in the past few years.
If a tree simply falls in your yard, and hits nothing, you probably should not call your agent. Again, most insurance policies cover tree cleanup only if the tree hits a house, fence or car.
Beware multiple claims
In addition, with most insurers, if you filed a claim in the past three years, a second claim could raise your rates.
Did you make a claim after the windstorm of September 2008? If so, you may not want to file a claim for minor damage.
Most homeowners insurance has a $500 deductible, so if a claim would be for under $1,000, think twice: You may just want to pay out of pocket.
That way you don't risk a rate increase, and you don't waste your money.
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