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A large tree in our yard fell in a windstorm. Fortunately, it didn't hit the house, but now we have to pay to cut it up and hauling it away. Will my home insurance cover the cost of the tree plus new landscaping?

Insurance coverage for landscaping is tricky. If the tree fell on your house, then home insurance would cover the damage to the building and pay for removal of the tree.

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However, if a tree falls without hitting and damaging a covered structure, then home insurance generally does not cover the cost of removal, and most policies don't cover the cost to replace the tree.

A few insurance companies cover landscaping up to a small percentage of a home's insured value; however, many insurers don't cover landscaping because it's tough to value, which makes it difficult to set an appropriate premium. You can purchase an endorsement--extra coverage tacked onto the home insurance policy--to cover especially rare or expensive plants.

As you consider what to plant once the tree is removed, look for trees that thrive in your region and soil conditions. Also, keep trees properly pruned to extend their lives, particularly if they've been damaged in storms, the Insurance Institute for Business and Safety recommends. Check with your local cooperative extension agency for information and tips on tree selection and care.

Meanwhile, you might be able to recoup some of the costs of your downed tree by claiming a loss on your federal income tax. Before removing the tree, contact an arborist to estimate damage, get the findings in writing, and consult a tax preparer about how to handle the tax claim.

For more, see home insurance for landscaping and plants.

Last updated: Aug. 2, 2011
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