A common question that many homeowners ask is whether or not trees and landscaping are covered by their homeowners policy. Trees and landscaping not only cost money, but they also add value to the home. Sometimes, they fall onto things, causing significant damage to property. Factor in the price of paying a contractor to remove the tree and repair damaged structures, and you could be looking at significant costs. The question is how much is covered by your homeowners insurance policy?
What Happens if a Tree Falls on my House?
Homeowners insurance policies include coverage for falling objects. Therefore, damage to your home caused by the tree is covered up to your policy limit. This coverage applies regardless of whether or not the tree is on yours or someone else’s property.
It may cost thousands of dollars to pay someone to remove fallen trees from your property. Whether or not insurance coverage is available to help with this cost first depends on where the tree was standing and why the tree fell. In this situation, “ownership” of the tree does become a factor. If you “own” the tree, meaning it is standing on your property, removal is covered if it fell due to one of the following perils: wind, hail, or the weight of ice, sleet or snow. If the tree damaging your property fell from a neighboring property, removal is covered by the perils listed above as well as fire, lightning and possibly several other events specifically listed in the policy.
Most homeowners policies limit coverage for this cost to a stated amount—typically $500 maximum per tree, $1,000 maximum for all trees felled during the loss. Coverage applies only if the fallen tree damages a covered structure, such as your home or a detached garage, or blocks a driveway or a ramp designed to assist the handicapped. The coverage does not apply to a tree that simply falls into the yard.
What Happens if My Landscaping Gets Ruined?
This question is important because many people invest significant money and time into landscaping. A typical homeowners policy will cover damage to trees, shrubs and plants up to 5% of your policy’s dwelling limit—this is the limit of insurance shown for your actual home. However, the maximum amount available per tree, shrub or plant is $500. This coverage will only apply if the tree, shrub or plant is damaged by one of the following: fire, lightning, explosion, riot or civil commotion, vandalism or malicious mischief, vehicles, other than your own, aircraft, and theft. Unfortunately, things like bad soil, infestations, over watering and over planting are not things that are covered.
It is important to discuss trees and landscaping with your insurance professional to make sure you have the right coverage to protect your entire property.