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Home insurance policies cover damage from trees downed by ice and snow

Sparkling ice-coated or snow-laden trees sure look nice, but the harm they can cause to your property is anything but pretty.

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Home insurance for tree damage

Fortunately, your home insurance policy pays for much of the damage that occurs when snow and ice storms send tree limbs crashing onto homes, garages and fences.

Most standard homeowners policies pay for necessary repairs or replacement when falling objects, including trees and tree limbs, damage your insured property, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCIAA). This coverage generally includes costs to cut up and haul away the tree or limb, as well as debris removal. Also, don't forget that insurance company claim payments are reduced by your policy's deductible.

Here are some commonly asked questions, and the answers, about home insurance coverage of damage from falling trees and limbs.

Q: Will my insurance company to remove the tree that fell on my house?
A: Yes. Your home insurance policy covers the cost of removing the tree from your premises if it fell on and damaged insured property. However it will not pay to haul away a limb that fell from a tree and damaged nothing.

Q: A tree fell on my fence, but my insurer does not want to pay to remove it because it did not fall on my house. Is that right?
A: No. The policy automatically covers "other structures," for up to 10 percent of the amount of insurance on the dwelling. Other structures include such things as fences and outbuildings. Therefore, if the fence was damaged by the tree, the debris-removal provisions of your policy cover the cost of having the tree removed from your property.

Q: A tree fell down and landed in my yard. Will my insurance pay to remove it?
A: No. The debris removal does not apply because the tree didn't damage your property.

Q: My neighbor's tree fell and landed in my yard. Will my insurance pay to remove it?
A: No. It doesn't matter who "owns" the tree. Again, debris removal does not apply because the tree didn't damage your property.

Q: My tree fell into my neighbor's yard and damaged his garage. Will my insurance pay for his damage and for removal?
A: No. Your neighbor needs to file a claim with his own insurance company.

Q: An ice storm destroyed a beautiful old tree that will cost thousands of dollars to replace. Will my homeowners policy reimburse me for replacing it?
A: No. The standard homeowners policy covers the loss of trees, shrubs and other landscaping as a result of fire, explosion, vandalism, and other such "named perils." However, it does not provide coverage of trees and other landscaping against weather-related damage.

Q: A tree fell on my car. Will my homeowners policy pay for the damage to my car and to remove the tree?
A: No. Home insurance policies do not cover vehicles. Since a car is not covered under your home insurance, the debris-removal provision of your policy will not pay to have the tree removed. You should contact your car insurance agent to make a claim for your damaged vehicle.

Tips for submitting property claims

PCIAA offers some helpful tips for effectively submitting home insurance claims:

  • Report your damage as soon as possible.
  • Take photographs of the damage. Make a list of everything you want to show the adjuster.
  • Know the cost of your deductible. Some policies have a flat dollar amount deductible while others depend on a percentage of the home's value. Some claims may not be worth making.

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