WHOSE TREE IS IT?
A Common question we hear frequently is “If my neighbors tree falls on my property, who is responsible for the damage?” This usually occurs when someone has a neighbor who has a good sized tree that is either close to their house or on the property line and if it were to fall or a large limb were to break out of it, then it may cause significant damage to either their home, or something else like a fence or shed. Many people think it should be the neighbors responsibility to cover this damage if it were to occur. Maybe you have a very good relationship with your neighbor and you can work something out if this ever does occur. Let’s assume if a tree falls and does damage a claim must be turned in to the insurance company.
How Would It Be Handled?
If a neighbors tree does happen to fall on your property, from the insurance stand point, the person whose property the tree fell on would be responsible for the property damage done from the tree. While to most people, this does not seem fair, this is how it works in the insurance field. You must look at the cause of the loss and the damage done. The tree fell due to a natural event, the storm. As a result of the storm, the tree fell and the loss occurred on your property. Think about it this way. If the storm caused your neighbor’s tree to fall, is it his fault the tree fell? Absolutely not. Why would you expect his insurance to cover something that he could not control? If your neighbor was cutting the tree down, and it fell the wrong way onto your house, then it would be your neighbors insurance that would have to pay for it because the cause of the loss was the negligence of your neighbor. Hopefully that is making sense.
Is there anything you can do?
There is a way to protect yourself if you do have a tree on a neighboring property you are concerned about. You can notify your neighbor in writing of your concern with the tree on their property, outlining that you think a bad storm or high winds could cause the tree to fall or a limb could break away and cause damage to your property. Now, it is the neighbors responsibility to take action since you have notified them. If the neighbor chooses to do nothing about the tree and a storm does cause it to fall and do damage to your property, then their insurance now becomes responsible for their negligence. This is where the liability coverage comes into play on your homeowners policy. You just need to make sure you have the notification in writing and have proof they were notified. Email would be the ideal way. If you prefer paper, then you should probably have a certified letter sent, that way you have proof they received it with their signature.