Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Tree Removal

Short Answer: Yes & No - there are considerations!

In this article we’re going to examine some fundamentals so you can answer the question, “Does homeowners insurance cover tree removal?” Because let’s face it, trees for millions of homeowners across America are a serious issue - there are over 1,000 species in the country! When things go wrong, they can do real damage and removal costs aren’t usually cheap (unless you can find some guys who will take the lumber off your hands for free firewood). If we head on over to homeowner watchdog sites like HomeAdvisor, the average costs in 2020 range from $400 on up to $1200 with ‘most paying $750’. That’s nothing to shake a stick at, especially when we’re talking about an emergency situation or circumstance where trees aren’t where they should be. Issues will revolve around the type of tree, how tall/wide the tree is, the amount of damage involved to the tree and potentially to property, and where the tree came from in the first place.

After Storms: Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Tree Removal

When trees damage people and property because of storms, your homeowners insurance should have coverage.The almighty keyword to focus on is Perils, specifically Perils outlined and named in your policy. Some of these are going to be specific to your area, for example if you happen to live in Tornado Alley, on a part of the coast where hurricanes are more common, in the interior where winter storms happen most years, and so forth. All of these can potentially lead to tree damage or displacement that leads to property damage. Here’s a really quick and easy breakdown to give you an idea. At the end of the day you need to see what kinds of perils your policy covers, and which it doesn’t, in regards to trees. Does homeowners insurance cover tree removal? These are generalized, but help answer the question.

_ Windstorm or Hail (Tree On House) - YES
_ Windstorm or Hail (Tree On Lawn or Non-Damaging Space) - NO
_ From the Weight of Ice, Snow, Sleet (Tree On House) - YES
_ From the Weight of Ice, Snow, Sleet Weight (On Lawn or Non-Damaging Space - NO
_ General Rotting, Breakdown or Aging (House, Lawn, or Empty Space) - NO
_ Disaster like Flooding or Earthquake (House, Lawn, or Empty Space - NO

Of course there are other special circumstances. For example, what if a homeowner is disabled and the tree didn’t damage anything, but sits in front of the wheelchair ramp? Or, if it’s fallen and blocked your driveway (but didn’t smash cars), you should check with your policy provider. How about when your tree falls onto city property, like the street or sidewalk? Again, check your policy and call the city government to find out!
does homeowners insurance cover tree removal

When Tree Removal Isn’t Covered

Now let’s briefly switch gears and look at the three basic circumstances where it is unlikely you’ll get any help from your homeowners insurance policy for tree removal.

_ The tree, or trees, have been damaged in the storm but have not yet technically fallen all the way down. Perhaps it’s just been hit by lightning, or it’s now leaning way over thanks to the snow or wind. This circumstance would likely be filed under ‘general maintenance and property upkeep’ and they’ll argue you could have done something - like prune.

_ The trees have fallen somewhere on your property that didn’t harm anyone or anything in the process. For example, on the front or backyard lawn. This is always the best scenario, but you’ll likely need to pick up the tab (unless the neighbor is willing to cut a deal).

_ When there was no officially-recognized ‘storm’ at all. If there’s no recognized peril, for example no weather stations recorded any excessively-high winds in your area for whatever reason, this is going to pose a stumbling block. Was your tree the only victim around? Often in this scenario, upon checking, it’ll be argued the tree fell because of aging.

will homeowners insurance cover tree removal

How Much Will My Policy Cover?

As you go through your policy or discuss it with a professional, pay specific attention to the ‘debris removal’ provisions. In most general cases, providers will cover up to $1,000 total - typically up to $500 per tree. This is in line with national average costs, discussed above. However, you may be surrounded by trees or there may be circumstances where your provider will raise those limits. For example, let’s say your provider offers additional coverage because you have a larger property with extensive trees, shrubs, and landscaping. If a tree comes in and wipes out $10,000-worth of plants, you may be covered. Just be sure not to neglect your landscaping-related trees, and help your neighbors keep an eye on theirs. When in doubt, contact a local arborist or specialist who can come in and tell you whether the tree(s) need to come down, or whether because of some other reason they pose a threat should a wind or snow storm roll through.