When severe weather and high winds threaten your neighborhood, it’s important to be prepared. Knowing what to do after a tree falls on your home could help you avoid injury, make repairs quickly, and get your home back up and running sooner.
The process for filing a homeowners insurance claim and making repairs depends on who owns the fallen tree and the property that’s damaged. Here are the steps you should take after a tree falls to protect your home and family:
Staying Safe After a Tree Falls
Whatever happens, the first thing you and your family should do is get to safety. Evacuate your home or move to a place in the house that’s free of damage and stay there while you call for help.
Once you and your family are safe, call 911 to report the incident. If necessary, the operator will dispatch EMS and the fire department to handle any injuries. They may also request help from your utility companies to ensure there are no downed power lines, and no risk of a fire or gas leak.
After you get the all-clear, you can begin debris removal and work to prevent further damage, including:
- Boarding up broken windows
- Clearing glass, tree limbs and other injury-causing debris
- Securing holes in the walls and roof with tarps
- Cleaning up flood waters and preventing future flooding
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tree Removal?
In most cases, your homeowners insurance will pay for any damage to:
- Your home
- Structures like garages, sheds, and fences
- Personal property inside your home or other structures
Your coverage may even include help with tree removal, landscaping repairs, and additional expenses related to the accident, like hotel stays while your home is being repaired.
Remember, your homeowner’s insurance covers damage to your home and other structures on your property. If a fallen tree causes no damage to the home and/or surrounding structures, like a shed or garage, then you as the homeowner may be responsible for tree removal.
Who is responsible for fallen tree removal and insurance claims?
If a tree on your property falls on your home, you’ll file a claim with your own homeowners insurance company. This becomes more complicated when a neighbor is involved. But if a tree on your neighbor’s property falls and damages your property, the neighbor’s insurance company may be responsible for the claim and any debris removal. The same will be true if roles are reversed.
Let’s take a closer look at possible scenarios so you can get a better understanding of how the claims and cleanup process will work.
Scenario 1: My Tree Fell on My House
If a tree on your property falls and the damage is isolated to your property, here’s what you’ll need to do:
Safety first: Get yourself, your family, and your pets to safety. Depending on the extent of the damage, this could mean evacuating while you call 911 and deal with the immediate aftermath of the accident.
Get ready: When you get the all-clear, take photos and detailed notes about the incident and any damage it caused. Make an itemized list of any property that will need to be repaired or replaced.
File a claim: In some cases, your insurance company will require that a claim be filed within 24-48 hours, so you’ll need to move quickly. Reach out to your insurance company with details of your coverage, information about the incident and your itemized list of damages to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Wait it out: From here, make sure you’re easy to reach and ready to answer any questions your insurance adjusters have, and they’ll take care of scheduling cleanup and repairs. In the meantime, you can start securing your home to prevent further damage.
Scenario 2: My Tree Fell on My Neighbor’s House
If a tree from your property falls onto a neighbor’s home or property, here’s what you should do:
Safety first: Ensure everyone involved is uninjured and has a safe place to be stay while the rest of the process is figured out.
Get ready: When it’s safe, take photos and detailed notes about the incident to use in the claims process.
File a claim: Exchange insurance information and reach out to your respective companies to begin the claims process. From here, your insurance companies will work together to decide who will pay. If it is determined that you were negligent (you knew your tree was clearly sick or damaged before it fell), your insurance company will pay for repairs. Otherwise, your neighbor’s homeowners insurance policy should handle the claim.
Wait it out: While this happens, be sure you are easy to reach and ready to answer any questions the adjusters may have while they make their decision. From there, your part in the process is done.
Scenario 3: My Neighbor’s Tree Fell on My House
In the event that a tree from a neighbor’s property falls on your home, this is what you’ll need to do:
Safety first: Like before, get yourself and your family to safety and call 911 to ensure there is no further danger.
Get ready: When it’s safe, take photos and detailed notes, and create an itemized list of damages to provide the insurance company.
File a claim: As with scenario 2, you and your neighbor will exchange insurance information and reach out to your respective companies to file a claim. From there, the companies will work to decide who should pay for the claim. If your neighbor is found to be negligent, their homeowners policy will move forward with the claim. If not, your insurance company will take responsibility.
Wait it out: Be ready to answer any questions your insurance adjusters have, and they’ll take care of scheduling cleanup and repairs. Like before, the insurance company will arrange for repairs and tree removal and work to get you back home as quickly as possible.
Talk to an independent agent today to see how you can save on your home and auto insurance.