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Whose Home Insurance is Responsible?

Recent storms in the US have caused many homeowners to suffer some damage from flying debris and fallen tree limbs. But if a tree falls on your home, what should you do? And does it matter whether it is one of your trees or a neighbor’s?

Filing A Claim

The first thing you should do if a tree or limb falls on your home, no matter whose tree it is, is call your insurance company and file a claim. After a storm, many people will be reaching out to insurance companies which means claims processing could become bottlenecked. The quicker you get your claim in, the faster you can get the damage fixed.

It is vital that you get damage fixed as quickly as possible so that there isn’t any additional water or structural damage from continued exposure to the elements and weight pressure from the fallen limb.

Many people, when trying to keep home insurance quotes low, avoid making claims, hoping they can use their neighbor’s home insurance policy if it was their neighbor’s tree that fell. But this is not the case, and is just another reason why you need home insurance if you don’t already have it.

Next Steps

Take a look around outside and determine whether or not there are any downed wires that need the attention of law enforcement or the power company in order to keep everyone in the neighborhood safe.

You can also take pictures of the damage for your own records or to show the insurance company in the event that they suggest you hire someone to help stem the damage before they get an assessor out there. If you do hire someone, don’t be too quick to hire just any old contractor. Check out their work licenses and insurance and, when possible, check out their company on the Better Business Bureau website or consumer sites like Angie’s List.

Also, if the home is overly exposed to the elements after the incident, or if there is any potential structural damage, you may consider leaving until repairs are done and the property is safe again.

Who is Responsible?

In the end, it doesn’t matter whose tree fell on whose house. The owner of the damaged home is the individual who should file the home insurance claim – which is why every home owner needs to get a home insurance quote, even if they’ve paid off their mortgage and are no longer required to carry coverage. If there is a deductible, the neighbors may want to work together to determine who is responsible for paying the deductible. Generally speaking, a healthy tree that has fallen after a storm is not necessarily any individual’s fault. But if an arborist can attest that that the tree hasn’t been properly cared for and that contributed to the incident, then the neighbors may wish to work something out between themselves.

No matter what, remember that the safety of you, your family and your neighborhood should come first. Things can always be replaced and repaired, people can’t. Be safe and smart and fast about having home insurance and filing your claim after storm damage.

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