Mature Trees and Homeowners Insurance - Advice?

janetgiaAugust 25, 2008

We are attempting to purchase a very nice property here that has several (about two dozen) mature trees of various kinds. A few of them look "mature" enough that they could need some work in the near future as far as trimming or even removal - which we would do after having someone come in to evaluate them. My question is, is there such a thing as "extra homeowner's insurance" or some sort of special rider that one can purchase that provides better-than-standard protection against limbs falling on the house or vehicles? Anyone have any specific experience with homeowners' insurance and claims involving fallen trees? Thanks -

Janet

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duluthinbloomz4

Lots of info on the web regarding insurance and fallen trees, etc. What crops up most is the usual $500 payout for debris clean up for an Act of God occurrance - assuming a downed tree does no damage to structures or property. And the spectre of multiple claims for this type of thing would undoubtedly adversely affect rates. But I have no doubt most insurance companies would be glad to write up additional coverages. After all, you're hedging your bet against something happening, and the company has your premiums which they may or may not pay out on if something does happen.

I live in an old established neighborhood with virtually nothing but mature trees. They're beautiful, a real asset, and losses do create holes in the landscape. Much to my dismay, I had to have two immense basswoods which dominated the skyline for blocks taken down - with age basswoods get weak and start dropping debris, and these actually had the potential of wreking havoc, perhaps even killing someone, if they came down. And I bit the bullet to the tune of $2500 to make this situation go away. Even if they had come down on their own and done no particular damage, it's doubtful I would have put in a claim against my homeowner's insurance for any clean up.

A reputable certified, licensed, and bonded arborist is your best bet. They have the skills to identify potential problems and minimize a lot of your risks. And I really think good maintenance with professional assistance would be cheaper in the long run than additional insurance. premiums.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 11:53AM
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patser

I also live in an established area with tons of mature trees. I agree with everything duluthinbloombz4 says...especially

A reputable certified, licensed, and bonded arborist is your best bet. They have the skills to identify potential problems and minimize a lot of your risks. And I really think good maintenance with professional assistance would be cheaper in the long run than additional insurance. premiums.

We had a 40 ft maple which we called the tree doctor out to see. The trunk was rotting through from both sides about 18 inches above the ground. The doctor said there was nothing that could be done...it was too late. He also said we needed to have it taken out sometime within 5 yrs. We waited 2 more years and we said goodbye to this beautiful tree earlier this spring. $900 later....

The tree doctors visit was $100....money I consider well spent.

One other thing....our town has a forestry department. Might the area you're going to have tree people on the city staff? That could be a help, too.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 6:35PM
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marge727

And in our community in SoCal you can be fined for removing a mature tree. So check with your city to find out if there are any restrictions on removing trees. Some trees are protected --California live oak for instance.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 4:12AM
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janetgia

All very good info, thank you all - yes our city has a forestry dept.... no removal restrictions that I know of, but I will be sure to ask. I will also start with them as far as finding an arborist.

The reason I first approached the problem from an insurance standpoint was that we had a Silver Leaf Maple in the front yard of our present home that split, and after a few weeks of very heavy rain and very soggy ground, 2/3 of the tree fell into the neighboring property in late May. They cut their piece of it apart - the fence was not even damaged, as the tree just "laid over" and did not go all the way down - and we were getting estimates to have the major piece on our side removed... homeowner's insurance told us there was nothing for our policy to cover, since it didn't damage anything and the only expense would be the removal, which wasn't covered. Then the whole property went completely under water during the flooding here in June, the house is destroyed, and removing the tree just hasn't been an issue since then. We have spent the summer living in a camper in the driveway on temporary electric, right in front of the fallen tree... house-hunting, orchestrating the City's purchase of our damaged property, etc. The property we're buying is beautiful - no Silver Leaf Maples! I hated that tree for many, many reasons - but we just want to be smart about managing the trees and preventing damage to them and to the house.

Thanks again for all your thoughts - really appreciate it!

Janet

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 11:22AM
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