Who pays for damage caused by falling trees and branches?

Who pays for damage caused by falling trees and branches?

Who pays for damage caused by falling trees and branches?

The winds and rainstorms that hit California this month knocked trees and branches down on homes, garages, cars and, tragically, people.

When a tree trunk or branch damages your property, one of your first questions is probably: “Who is going to pay for this?” » Chances are you will have to cover at least some of the cost.

There are five key factors at work:

  1. What was damaged?
  2. What caused the tree to fall?
  3. On whose property was the tree?
  4. What condition was the tree in?
  5. What are the terms of your insurance policy?

In some cases, you may have to pay the entire bill. In others, however, your net cost might be zero.

House or car?

The most likely source of help when a falling tree branch damages something you own is your insurance policy. Damage to a structure on your property – house, garage or shed – would potentially be covered by a home insurance policy. Damage to items inside said home, garage, or shed would potentially be covered by a homeowner’s or renter’s policy, as would damage to items in a vehicle. Damage to a vehicle could be covered by an auto insurance policy, if it offered the right options.

Coverage is just potential, not certain, due to some of the other factors involved.

The first and most important is what type of weather event uprooted the tree or broke its branches.

Your home insurance policy will cover tree damage only if it is the result of a windstorm, lightning or hail. An earthquake requires a separate policy, just like a flood or a mudslide. Tenant policies have similar limitations.

One notable exception that’s important in California: If the tree is part of a debris flow from an area burned by a wildfire, you can claim that the “immediate cause” was the fire (which your home insurance policy), not flood waters (which it is not).

A second crucial issue is the condition of the tree. If he was healthy and well cared for, the immediate cause of the damage was probably the wind which shook him hard enough to cause his limbs to fly off. It’s considered an event beyond your control, and the standard insurance policy will cover it, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

However, you will still have to pay your policy’s deductible. If the tree was on someone else’s property, your insurer may seek reimbursement from that person — and possibly reimburse your deductible as well, says the Insurance Information Institute.

If your claim is paid, your insurance premiums could increase in the future, as homeowners’ insurers base their rates in part on their clients’ claim history. In fact, if you have multiple large claims, you may find it difficult to find an insurer willing to cover your home.

If the tree was in poor health and planted on your property, your insurer could argue that the immediate cause of the damage was your poor maintenance, not the storm. In this case, you will have to pay the entire bill. (And even if it was a healthy tree, if its trunk or branches fell without hitting anything, you would be responsible for cleanup costs. Your insurer will not pay for tree removal. unless a covered structure is damaged or your entrance is blocked.)

If the unhealthy tree was on someone else’s property, you should be able to claim reimbursement from that person’s home insurance, Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. says on its website. But he adds: “Keep in mind that negligence can sometimes be difficult to prove. Your case will be stronger if you have already asked the neighbor to remove the decaying tree or sent them a certified letter from a tree professional stating the need to remove the tree.

What happens if my car is plastered by a tree?

The first question here is whether you have “full” coverage. The State of California requires drivers to have collision and liability coverage; complete, which covers everything else, is optional.

If you have this coverage, the second question is whether the vandal tree was on your property. If so, your car insurer could deny your claim if the tree wasn’t well maintained or if it wasn’t caused by wind, hail or lightning.

Assuming it wasn’t your tree, or at least not a diseased tree in your yard, and you have full coverage, you’ll still have to pay the deductible. Under California law, however, your auto insurance premiums shouldn’t increase after a claim if you aren’t primarily at fault.

About the Times Utility Journalism Team

This article comes from The Times Utility Journalism Team. Our mission is to be essential to the lives of Southern Californians by publishing information that solves problems, answers questions, and aids in decision making. We serve audiences in and around Los Angeles, including current Times subscribers and various communities whose needs have not been met by our coverage.

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