For the most part, having trees on your property is a wonderful thing. Trees can add aesthetic beauty to your home, provide shade for your garden, give a space for your kids to play, and help attract wildlife to your home. They’re pretty, fun, and romantic, and can really tie your home together.
However, the value in having a tree at your home is directly tied to that tree actually staying upright. Once a tree falls over, it no longer feels like a luxury. Instead, it becomes a straight up nuisance. A downed tree is an eyesore that needs to be removed, and it can often cause damage on the way down.
Worse yet, it can cause damage to someone else, not just you. A lot of times trees are placed right on the edge of a property line, meaning they can just as easily fall onto your neighbor’s property as onto your own. So what happens if a tree that’s on your property falls onto a neighbor’s house? Whose homeowners insurance is responsible for that unfortunate scenario? Read on to find out.
Does your homeowners insurance cover a tree falling on a neighbor’s house?
For better and for worse, no. If a tree falls on someone’s house, then it falls under the care of that person’s homeowners insurance. This is a relief if a tree on your property falls on a neighbor’s house, though it’s less fun if a tree on your neighbor’s property falls on your house.
Homeowners insurance covers damage to a property, not by a property. Your homeowners insurance policy only comes into play if something on your property is damaged. So if your neighbor’s property is damaged, that will be covered by their homeowners insurance policy, even if it’s a tree on your property that is causing the damage.
You still can’t be negligent
Just because your neighbor’s homeowners insurance covers them in the event that a tree on your property falls on their house doesn’t mean you’re fully off the hook. Homeowners insurance only covers certain events. When it comes to trees that fall down, the typical homeowners insurance policy will cover it if it’s caused by an event like a windstorm, snowstorm, or lightning.
Negligence, however, is usually not covered. If you have a tree on your property that is dead or rotting, then you’ll likely be responsible for damage caused if it falls down. Similarly if your garden or landscaping is causing the soil to become loose, and that is the cause of a tree falling down, you’re on the hook.
Ultimately, your neighbor still has to go through their homeowners insurance. But if their insurance company decides that the tree fell on their house because of negligence on your behalf, you’ll likely end up liable.
What about the deductible?
It’s nice to think of a tree falling on a home and no one having to pay any money, because the homeowners insurance policy kicks in. But in reality, your neighbor will still likely have to pay their deductible first. That can seem unfair, but, as mentioned before, it goes both ways.
With that said, sometimes people will contest their deductible to try and have you pay for it. Perhaps your negligence wasn’t entirely the reason for the tree falling, but it was part of the reason (for instance a rotting tree that fell down in a windstorm). If that’s the case, your neighbor might feel like they’re being unfairly charged for their deductible, and might ask their insurance company to try and have it covered by you.
When it comes to a tree on your property falling on a neighbor’s house, most of the time you aren’t responsible for anything. Just make sure there are no rotting or dead trees around, and you should be just fine.