Trees can add beauty and a sense of peace to neighborhoods. Because of this, many home buyers look for neighborhoods and even specific homes with mature trees. However, before you buy a lot full of trees, you may want to consider the damage the trees could cause to your home and whether your home insurance would cover it if this happens.
Does homeowners insurance cover tree removal? The answer is relatively complex. You may be covered for some scenarios and not for others. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team breaks down the ins and outs of tree removal insurance coverage to help you choose the right policy options for you.
- Home insurance may cover tree debris removal in some scenarios.
- Your policy may not pay to remove a dead tree from your property.
- If one of your trees falls on a neighbor’s house, the neighbor’s insurance will likely respond.
Common Types of Tree Damage on Your Property
While having trees on your property can be aesthetically pleasing, trees come with maintenance costs and can even cause damage to the home in a number of ways, including:
- Roof damage: Tree limbs that stick out from your home can be blown over during storms, damage your roof, and even fall into your home.
- Coating Damage: Branches can also fly against your siding or repeatedly rub against your house and cause deeper scratches or damage.
- Interior water damage: If a tree branch or an entire tree has fallen on or against your home during a storm, it may be raining inside, which can cause indoor water damage.
- Damage to service lines: The roots of your trees can become service lines, such as water or gas, and cause damage.
- Blocked walkways: If a tree falls in your driveway, you may need to remove it to get your vehicles out.
When will homeowners insurance cover tree removal?
Home insurance covers tree damage and tree removal in certain scenarios. Generally, if a tree or limb falls on your home, a detached structure like a garage or shed, or blocks your driveway, your policy may cover removal, up to its limit. However, the reason the tree falls is important. Removal may be covered if a tree falls in the following scenarios, but only if it falls on your home, an outbuilding, or your driveway:
- wind storm
- hail storms
- Under the weight of ice or snow
- Lightning and resulting fire.
- Other covered risks listed in your policy
However, keep in mind that all policies are different. Talk to your agent about the details of your policy to better understand what is covered.
When will homeowners insurance not cover tree removal?
Not all tree removal scenarios are covered. Your home insurance company may deny removal coverage if a tree falls in the following situations:
- during a flood
- during an earthquake
- If the tree is dead
- If the tree is rotten
- If the tree is not well cared for
You may be wondering, “Will homeowners insurance pay for dead tree removal?” or “Does homeowners insurance cover preventive tree removal?” The answer to both is no. These scenarios are considered maintenance and are part of the cost of having trees on your property. If a tree is dead or needs to be removed as a preventative measure, your home insurance probably won’t pay for it.
Will my homeowners policy cover tree damage to my neighbor’s house?
Not usually. If a tree on your lot falls on your neighbor’s house due to a covered peril, your neighbor’s home insurance policy will usually pay for the damage. Your homeowners policy does not cover damage to your neighbor’s house, regardless of who fell the tree.
The only way your policy will kick in is if you are found liable for the damages. If you know a tree is dead, rotten or not, and poses a threat to your neighbor’s house, but you fail to act to remove the tree, you may be found negligent. Your neighbor could sue you to prove your negligence and ask for damages to be paid.
How much does my homeowners policy pay if I need to remove fallen trees?
How much does insurance pay for tree removal? It depends on your policy. Many standard policies include $500 to $1,000 in debris removal coverage, although some companies may consider debris removal coverage to be a percentage of your total loss. For example, if a tree falls and causes $5,000 in damage to your home and you only have 5% debris removal coverage, your policy may pay up to $250 to remove the tree.
You may be able to increase this amount with an endorsement. If you have multiple trees or particularly large trees on your lot, you may want to consider increasing your coverage.
Why doesn’t my home insurance cover removal of a dead tree?
Home insurance is designed to cover sudden and accidental damage. If you have a dead tree on your property, the damage caused by the tree is not necessarily sudden. You know that the tree could fall and cause damage, and it is your responsibility as the owner to protect your property. Maintaining the health of the trees on your property, including removing any trees that pose a threat to your home, is part of home maintenance.
How do I know if my tree could fall on my house?
Trees that stick out from your roof or have branches too close to your house can put your house at risk. Also, trees that are large enough to fall on your house if they topple in a prevailing wind can also be a problem. Generally, having a relatively clear area that is free of trees around your house is a good idea. If you are unsure about the health of a tree, talk to a landscaper to have it evaluated.
How much does tree removal cost?
The cost to remove a dead or hazardous tree from your property can depend on several factors, including the size of the tree (larger trees generally cost more), the type of tree (some trees are physically tougher than others), and the surrounding area. (tight spaces could make removal difficult). This Old House, a popular home renovation program, lists the average cost of tree removal among $700 and $750, although it can be much smaller or larger. Contacting a tree surgeon for a quote is the best way to find out how much you will pay for tree removal.