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Will My Homeowner's Insurance cover Tree Removal Costs?

Posted on July 7, 2015 at 1:25 PM

Don't count on your homeowner's insurance company to pay to remove dead or dying trees from your property to avoid future damage. Insurance companies generally consider this a maintenance responsibility of the homeowner. Only after the tree falls due to an insured peril will a homeowner’s policy pay.

But letting nature take its course and allowing the tree to fall in an attempt to save removal costs can be a dangerous strategy. A falling tree can seriously injure or kill people and pets. If risk to life and limb is not enough, consider the time and significant inconvenience of having to repair a badly damaged home. If you have a dead or dying tree on your property, it is recommended that you pay a reputable tree service to remove it before it causes damage or injury.

Once a tree falls, homeowner’s insurance coverage for tree removal varies widely from insurer to insurer. It's best to call your agent to determine what your policy will cover. Most homeowner’s policies will only pay for tree removal if a fallen tree lands on your home, deck or fence. A few insurance companies will pay for tree removal if it simply falls without causing physical damage to a structure, but this is not typical. The amount of coverage for tree removal also varies between insurers. The general standard seems to be $500 per loss, although some carriers offer endorsements to increase coverage to $1,000 per loss.

Coverage for the removal of tree debris and the subsequent structural damage to property is only provided if an insured peril causes the tree to fall. Such insured perils include wind, fire or lighting. If an uninsured peril caused the tree to fall, neither the removal of tree debris nor the resulting damage to physical property is covered.

A few notable limitations regarding tree removal coverage should be understood. Importantly, coverage for the removal of tree debris and the subsequent structural damage to property is only covered if an insured peril causes the tree to fall. Such insured perils include wind, fire or lighting. If an uninsured peril caused the tree to fall, neither the removal of tree debris nor the resulting damage to physical property is covered. 

Damage caused by insects is commonly excluded from coverage on most homeowner’s policies. For people dealing with infestations of emerald ash borers or other invasive critters, this is a particularly important exclusion to understand.

Yes, having dead or dying trees removed can be expensive. But the cost of failing to remove them can be much greater, in terms of injury, physical damage to your property, and the eventual impact of a high-cots claim on your insurance premium. It's best to be a responsible homeowner and remove dangerous hazards before they cause harm.

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