Fallen tree

malcolmOctober 18, 2009

Our neighbors oak tree fell on our house and came through our roof and into the kitchen. What can we expect from our insurance company. Half the kitchen is ruined but the other half is fine. we are hoping we can just start over.

Thanks for the help

Malcolm

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maryland_irisman

Malcolm,

There are several posts here concerning trees, responsibility and liability. It appears that rules and laws vary throughout the country (or continent). Where I live, if a neighbors tree falls on your house, your insurance company is responsible and, you cannot hold the neighbor liable. That is unless you have previously notified them in writing of a dangerous condition. Once the time comes to get the work done,you and your insurance company need to discuss what is to be expected and allowed. Basically, your insurance company will be looking to restore everything to it's original condition at the least cost possible. If they can replace everything to match the original, that's what they'll do. Otherwise you can expect to choose from comparable supplies. You could discuss with your agent the possibility of upgrading while the work is being done with you making up the difference out of pocket.

You should not expect to have restoration with less quality or mix matched. The whole idea is to restore you to as close to exactly what you had before the tree fell, as much as practical.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 8:47PM
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joed

Should expect the damaged areas to be restored to previous condition. You should not expect them redo your entire kitchen.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 8:35AM
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kudzu9

Or, if you want to use this as an opportunity to remodel, you can probably get your insurance company to pay you a lump sum toward the damage, and then you can do whatever you want within your overall budget.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 3:02PM
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bus_driver

If the neighbor's tree appeared to be healthy prior to falling, you or your insurance are the parties who will pay for your repairs. If the tree was obviously dead or diseased, the neighbor might be responsible. Consult a good attorney.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 9:40PM
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sweeby

And an insurance adjuster to make sure the settlement offer is reasonable.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2009 at 3:29PM
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andrelaplume2

I had a tree that I noticed had a crack in it. I called the Ins company to put in a claim to have it taken down....seamed logical to me....they'd pay a few bucks to remove the tree rather than tens of thousands if it fell on the house. Wrong! I was told it was up to me to pay to remove the tree and since I had notified them that there was a crack, should it fall, they would not cover anything. I paid to have it removed.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 8:56AM
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yborgal

Same thing happened to us, except the root ball of the 50' tree was lifting and causing the tree to lean dangerously in the direction of our home. This was about 4-5 years ago when we had hurricanes coming to our area.
We had to pay to remove the tree. I'm still wondering what the insurance was for.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 8:17PM
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jemdandy

Common sense would say that its the neighbor's tree, therefore, the neighbor has some responsibility. Here's one way to handle it. Let your insurance company handle the situation. They will do the repair and then if they feel the neighbor's insurance, or the neighbor, should share in the cost, they may take them to court. However, in the event that both properites are insured by the same company, I would not expect any further action other than the neighbor's insurance rates may go up.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 2:52AM
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brickeyee

" I'm still wondering what the insurance was for."

It is NOT for maintenance, and that is what routine tree care is (including removal if it is sick, dead, or a hazard.

"Common sense would say that its the neighbor's tree, therefore, the neighbor has some responsibility. "

Generally not, unless you can prove the neighbor new the tree was dead or dyging.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 11:44AM
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yborgal

brick, the tree had been maintained and was healthy.

We experienced a great amount of rain and we had severe storms come through the area. The combination of those two elements caused the root ball of the tree to lift and the tree was leaning at about a 30 degree angle in the direction of our home.

I thought the insurance company would have preferred to pay for the removal of the tree rather than pay for the property damanges. It turns out they wouldn't have covered any damage to our home in the event the tree fell on the house. So we paid out of pocket to do it.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 4:04PM
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texasredhead

It is not the roll of any insurance company to pay for prevention of any possible event that could effect your home in the future. Something similar to the police being able to arrest a person only after they have actually done a crime.

Our neighbor had a large live oak tree, a substantial amount of limbs were hanging over and laying on my roof. I got a quote to have the limbs removed from my roof and presented the quote to my neighbor. It was about $800. She decided to have the tree removed.

Now, had a storm come along and some of those limbs came through my roof, I would have contacted MY insurance company. Further, I have a deductable equivilent to 1% of the value of my home which is $2,400. It is likely that my insurance company would contact my neighbor's insurance company in an effort to regain my deductable.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 8:42AM
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brickeyee

"I thought the insurance company would have preferred to pay for the removal of the tree rather than pay for the property damanges. It turns out they wouldn't have covered any damage to our home in the event the tree fell on the house. "

It was a damaged tree, and removal is a maintenance expense.

By failing to maintain the tree (in this case remove it when you had warning of the danger) the insurance company would be well within its rights to refuse to pay if it did fall.

If it had fallen at that time they would likely have paid.

I have meet numerous people who have never even looked through their insurance policies.

Many will cover the damage a falling tree does on your property, but will NOT pay to remove a fallen tree that does no property damage.

A friend had a large oak hit by lightning and blown down in a violent storm. Others trees on his lot also fell.
The oak crushed his fence.
The insurance company payed for the removal and fence repair, but would not pay for the removal of the other trees.

Luckily for him the tree removal company cut him a deal since they were already there being paid to do work on his lot.

It was still a few thousand dollars to remove the other debris though.
These were over 100 foot trees around six feet around chest high.

The more regular summer thunder storms have been slowly picking of his other trees since they are now more exposed from the hole in the tree canopy.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 10:16AM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Depends on where you live. Here in VA. the laws were changed several years ago. Now, the owner of the tree is responsible for damage to neighbor if his/her tree falls.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 8:51AM
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suburbanmd

Now that I've dealt with tree problems, I don't understand why the house buying process doesn't routinely include a tree inspection along with the usual house inspection. Have problems with a couple of large trees, and you're potentially talking as much money as an HVAC system or a roof.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 12:06PM
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brickeyee

"Now, the owner of the tree is responsible for damage to neighbor if his/her tree falls."

That is NOT what the supreme court in Richmond decided.

The case was over a tree causing damage across a property line by normal growth, not falling down.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 5:30PM
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