Did a neighbor’s tree, satellite dish, or lawn equipment fly onto your roof? It may have originally belonged to someone else, but anything that lands on your property is now your responsibility.
That’s right, you are responsible for removing the tree and repairing any damage. Fortunately, most homeowners insurance provides coverage for incidents like this.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), structural damage to your house or other insured structures is covered – even if it came from a neighbor’s tree or flying projectile – unless the damage was caused by negligence.
Get to Safety and Document Everything
The first thing to do is get yourself, and anyone else in the house, out to safety. If a tree breached your roof or walls, be very careful when walking through the house. If it did, you may also want to call the city or your utility companies to get the home’s power, water, and natural gas (if you use it) shut off.
If you have any uncertainties on how safe the home is, call the fire department and have them evaluate the structure. It isn’t uncommon for felled trees to cause interior walls or floors to collapse.
Start taking pictures and videos as soon as you can and try to get footage of where the tree or object came from. The insurance company should send out a claims adjuster, but they may want to see pictures or footage before that happens.
Be careful when walking outside, particularly if there are power lines around your house. Once you are somewhere safe, go ahead and call your insurance company.
Go Through Your Homeowners Insurance Provider
Contact your homeowners insurance once you and anyone else in the house are safe. Things can get a little complicated, but your insurance provider will let you know what’s covered and walk you through the process.
Not everything will be covered. You may have to pay your deductible, along with certain other out-of-pocket expenses. However, you may be able to get compensation for this from your neighbor.
Your neighbor may attempt to resolve things before the insurance gets involved. However, this process is best done through your insurance and your home should still be looked at by a professional even if the damage appears minor.
Who has to clean it up?
Cleanup is your responsibility. You will need to hire a tree or garbage removal service to take away whatever fell on your property.
Homeowners insurance should cover anywhere from $500 to $1,000 of tree removal costs (after the deductible is paid. However, according to the III, coverage is only provided for debris that falls onto your home, other insured structures (like a detached garage), or if it’s blocking a driveway or disability ramp.
If a large tree limb landed in the middle of your backyard without hitting the home or blocking a vital pathway, you will usually be left with the costs of removing it and repairing any landscaping.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Damage from a Neighbor’s Tree or Property?
Homeowners insurance covers the cost of repairing your structure from unexpected and accidental hazards, no matter where they came from.
If your home was damaged by a neighbor’s tree, satellite dish, flying barbecue, or any other object, your insurance will cover it. You are also covered if an object fell from city property or came out of the sky.
The insurance company won’t hassle you about where an object came from. But they will usually attempt to seek compensation from the responsible party.
However, you still have to pay your deductible. You may be able to get this back if your insurance company goes after your neighbor’s insurance. Your insurance contract gives the insurer the right to pursue a third party who caused you damages. This is called subrogation. If the neighbor’s tree fell due to no fault of their own – such as from lightning or a storm – their insurance should cover the costs.
Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Landscaping Damages?
Landscaping isn’t part of your home’s structure, but it does add property value. If landscaping was damaged, you may get limited compensation of up to 5% of your home structure’s total insured amount.
If you grow plants for sale on your property, they need to be covered through a business insurance policy – not your homeowners.
When Is Your Neighbor Considered Responsible?
Insurance companies provide financial compensation for perils that are unexpected and accidental chance events, not incidents caused by negligence.
If debris flew or fell onto your house because the neighbor failed to secure or take care of their property, your insurance company may sue theirs or sue your neighbor directly.
Should You Sue Your Neighbor?
It’s usually best to let your insurance company handle things. If you end up with out-of-pocket costs that can’t be subrogated away, you could ask your neighbor to compensate you.
However, if your insurance company doesn’t think it’s worth it to go after your neighbor or their insurance, a lawsuit probably won’t be best for you either.
So, do what you can to come to a friendly agreement outside of the court system.
Protecting Your Property from a Neighboring Tree
Is a neighboring tree growing over your roof, garage, or property? The law usually permits homeowners to cut or trim back tree branches that hang into their property.
If you have the ability to protect your house from a neighboring tree but fail to do so, the insurance company may consider this an act of negligence and try to avoid covering you.
Check your local by-laws to verify your rights and responsibilities. To be courteous, let your neighbor know that you’d like to trim their tree back or ask for them to do it.
If you decide to proceed, always hire a tree care professional who will trim the tree without damaging it or lowering its value to your neighbor. You can look for providers who comply with the national tree pruning standard, ANSI A300.
Need Your Roof Repaired Immediately?
At AGR, we’ve been repairing structural roofing damage in the local area for over 20 years. If you need emergency roofing repair or home restoration in Omaha, Nebraska, call us at 402-639-1218 or send us a message. Our project managers and trusted roofers will get your home back to you.