Fallen Tree-Who Pays?

jimlaDecember 23, 2007

1. If a tree growing on my neighbor's property blows over and the majority of it lands on my property, who is responsible for the cleanup and removal of the portion in my yard?

2. Same tree but just a large limb falls and lands on my yard. Who is responsible for removal?

We had an ice storn last week and its windy again today, just want to be prepared in case.


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Call your homeowners insurance company, who will in turn contact the neighbors homeowners insurance company and they will work out the details.

In most cases if it is determined that the tree was healthy it is then classified as an "Act of God" and each property owners insurance covers the extent of the damage on the property they cover.

If it can be proven that the tree was dead, or suffered severe damage and that the property owner had knowledge of the problem but elected to ignore it,that property owner could be held liable for all the damage. Under those conditions their may also be contention between the property owner and his/her respective insurance company as to whether the damage is covered.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 6:08PM
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Home owners insurance may be of no help. Two years ago two of my neighbours had same problem. Insurance would not do anything. Even when the guy who's tree it was wanted his insurance to cover it. We went out with chainsaws and just cleaned it up.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2007 at 7:28PM
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I just went through this with my MIL's house. A large pine tree on the neighbor's land fell during a Nor'easter. The tree landed partially on MIL's house (destroyed porch) and there was a lot of debris in her yard.

The law in the state where she is, and the law in most states, is that unless the tree was visibly damaged or rotted it is the responsibilty of each property owner to clean up his own property. Because the tree fell due to lighting, weight of snow or a non-visble weak area (no way to determine which it was), MIL was responsible for her own clean up.

Her insurance DID cover it after the deductible.

So, the answer to your question is that in MOST states YOU are responsible for cleaning up the tree or branch that falls into your yard (unless it is visibly rotted, etc.).

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 1:31AM
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However, examine it closely to see if you can spot 'rot' (or get an arborist to do it) because if it was obviously bad (and therefore not taken care of in terms of proper removal) you might have a case for small claims court.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 5:52AM
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Just one question. Did the insurance cover the tree cleanup or the house repair or both because it damaged the house? I have my doubts they would have covered anything if the tree only fell and did not damage any property like house or car.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 6:28AM
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First and foremost (and this is nothing personal lazypup) DO NOT call your insurer as described above. As I've said a hundred times, never call your insurer unless you've got a substantial amount of damage and you're as sure as you can be that it would be covered. Insurers will maintain ALL claim info. and some will eventually use it against you. Yeah it sucks, yeah insurance companies are the great plague of the 21st century, but it's the way it is...move on.

Now regarding the tree. If it's NOT your tree, but it hits your property, cleanup is your problem. Will your insurer pay for it...MAYBE!! It's generally held that if it hits something on your property (ie, a fence, your house, shed, garage, etc) then removal is covered to a specific amount...generally between $500-$1000. If it just falls in your yard...I don't know of a company that would cover it.

Now, if it's your tree and it falls into your neighbors yard...yep, you guessed correct...it's his problem. Again, DON'T call your insurer to ask...they'll keep track of this.

For anyone who cares, the basis for this logic lies in your liability coverage. In order for you to be held liable for your tree hitting your neighbors house, you would have had to contribute to that tree falling. Just owning the tree is not contributing to it's falling down. Now, if you and the whole neighborhood knew this tree was in real bad shape, but you decided to try and save it. You rope it off, chain it up, and whatever else you could come up with, and the tree still falls could you be held liable...possibly. Let's just say that in 17 years I've never fielded that call from either perspective.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 11:52AM
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I had a maple tree go bad after a lightning strike. Insurance flat fee'd me $500 max for its removal.

No tree company would touch it for that,, double that amount to remove it, and they'd leave a stump.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 1:12PM
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we had a 90' oak tree fall through our house. the insurance company would pay to have the tree removed from the house, but not the removal of the tree from the property. Had the tree fallen and not hit anything the insurance company would not pay anything. They did pay for repairs ($70000) minus the deductable. Took a while to get it sorted, but for the most part they were reasonable to work with.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 10:00PM
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Take lots of "before" photos. Photos of the tree showing how it leans over your property,etc. Write the date on the back of the photos and keep them in a safe place. If a problem occurs in the future, this "evidence" may help the insurance company.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2008 at 1:56PM
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