Who pays when a tree falls during a storm?

Don't Waste Your Money

UPDATED 11/15/18: Tri-State homeowners will spend the next few days picking up tree branches that fell during Thursday's ice storm. 

So it got us thinking: When a tree falls during a storm, who pays for the cleanup?

Depends on where the tree falls:

  • If a tree landed on your car or your home, call your insurance company and make a claim. That usually falls under "comprehensive" coverage.
  • But if the tree simply landed in your yard, in most cases you have to pay out of pocket to have it hauled away.

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.

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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