It’s not a Canadian winter without snow, ice, harsh winds, and (unfortunately) falling trees. While they often take down power lines and slow down commutes, the worst broken tree limbs can do is cause damage to personal property.
You might think that you’re automatically covered by your insurance company, but that’s not always the case. Under what circumstances will your policy cover the destruction?
When Insurance Covers Tree Removal
Fallen tree removal is most often covered when the tree causes property damage. Many insurance companies ask that you have a contractor check your home for damages and identify potential repairs. Check your insurance policy and talk to your provider for a better understanding of what’s included and excluded from coverage. Many insurance companies will also cover any repairs to your home and the living expenses related to attenuating renovations. These expenses often include hotel stays and any restaurant meals needed while your home was under renovation from the damage.
Another piece of property that is often damaged by falling trees is the family car. Damage coverage for vehicles is like home damage: it often depends on the policy and the maintenance of the fallen tree. Your car insurance will most likely cover the costs, but check with your policy provider rather than cross your fingers.
However, if a tree falls but doesn’t damage your property, the insurance policy probably won’t cover that. It’s your responsibility to call an arborist to remove the tree.
Public And Neighbouring Trees
But what do you do if a tree from public property? Even though the municipality bears legal responsibility for trees on public land, getting the tree removed is not as simple as filing a claim against the city. An investigation will likely take place to evaluate the state of the tree and its maintenance history.
To improve the situation, take action ahead of time. The Insurance Bureau of Canada says that homeowners should inform local officials if a tree owned by the city is rotting or potentially damaged. You can’t touch the tree yourself, though, as homeowners are not allowed to do so because of the risk of injury to themselves, another person, and public utilities. The City must complete any trimming or tree removal work for you.
What happens if it was a neighbour’s tree? The neighbour should take over the clean-up costs, but you can prevent the situation from happening in the first place. If you’re worried about a neighbouring tree falling on your home or car, ask them for permission to trim the branches back so that the limbs don’t cross onto your property. You can arrange with your neighbour to have an arborist come in, or even ask the city to come and inspect it. If your neighbour refuses to rectify the situation or cover the clean-up, follow up in writing and keep copies of the correspondence for future reference.
If the tree was healthy and still broke during a storm, your own home insurance company – not your neighbour’s insurance – is responsible for covering the damage.