A tree-lined property can be beautiful, but falling trees can create headaches for you, and in some cases, your neighbours. A tree falling on your property that causes damage to your neighbour's is likely to require using a homeowners insurance policy to pay for damages. Circumstances may dictate whether coverage must come from your neighbour's policy or from the liability coverage under your own policy.
The liability coverage on your homeowners policy pays for damages sustained by third parties due to a covered event for which you are responsible. Liability coverage applies when, for example, a neighbour trips over an object on your property and is injured. Your policy pays for the injured party's medical expenses and any damages awarded as a result of a lawsuit in this situation.
Falling Tree Coverage
Trees on your property can fall for a number of reasons, including weather-related occurrences like heavy winds or lightning, or from the effects of rotting over time. If a falling tree from your property damages your neighbour's property, your insurance policy normally does not pay for the damages. Instead, the neighbour needs to seek payment under his own homeowners insurance policy. As a general rule, homeowners insurance is designed to protect only the owner's property, not a neighbour's property.
At times, you may need to put your own homeowner's liability coverage to use to pay for the neighbour's damage if there is proof that the tree fell due to your negligence. An example of negligence could be the failure to remove a dead or diseased tree, assuming there is proof that you were aware of its condition. After your neighbour's insurer has paid the claim, it may attempt to seek recovery from your insurance company. Your neighbour could also sue you to recover additional damages not covered by her own policy.
You may be able to avert a drawn-out dispute and maintain favourable neighbourly relations by invoking the Damage to Property of Others coverage, which is typically added to liability coverage under a homeowners policy. This coverage usually provides an additional £650 of protection and can be applied without the need to assume legal liability. However, using this coverage does constitute a claim under your policy, which could hamper the filing of future claims.
- HomeInsurance.org: How Trees On Your Property Affect Your Home Insurance Policy; Jan. 31, 2010
- Homeowners Insurance Axis: What is Homeowner's Liability Insurance, Do I Need it, and How Can I Get It?
- Insurance.com: My Tree Fell On My Neighbor's Porch--Whose Home Insurance Covers the Damage? Oct. 17, 2008