With the fall season comes high winds, heavy rain, and the risk of fallen trees that can cause serious property damage. So what happens if your neighbor's tree falls in your yard?
"Trees can be tricky, but generally speaking homeowners are responsible for what falls into their yard," says Gary Sullivan, vice president of property and subrogation claims at Erie Insurance. "If this scenario becomes a reality, your homeowners insurance would typically help cover the cost of removing the tree and the damage it caused, after your deductible."
The same is true in reverse: If a tree on your property falls in your neighbor's yard, your neighbor should file a claim with his or her insurance company. In most cases, neighbors are able to work things out without too much trouble. If there's ever an issue, your claims adjuster can help straighten everything out.
The Claims Process
If a tree falls on your house, take photos, then call your claims adjuster, who will evaluate the damage and explain your homeowners coverage. It's recommended that you call your claims adjuster before you contract to have the tree removed.
Sometimes trees fall on cars. If it's not safe or possible to remove the tree from the car yourself, call a professional. Again, talk to a claims adjuster first and take a few photos of the fallen tree on your car. Depending on the damage, both your homeowners and the optional comprehensive coverage you may have on your auto policy could provide coverage for the loss.
Preventive measures matter when it comes to trees. Start by looking for signs of distress such as dead limbs, cracks in the trunk or major limbs, leaning to one side and branches that are close to a house or power line. Mushroom growth on the roots or bark can also signal trouble.
"A homeowner should pay attention to the health of their trees," says Sullivan. "The best thing to do is regularly have large trees trimmed."