While tornadoes are, thankfully, relatively infrequent in West Michigan we do routinely suffer damages from high winds and storms. There storms frequently down trees resulting in expenses for property owners to remove tree debris, repair damaged structures, and repair or replace other items a downed tree may damage.
In this article we’ll examine which personal insurance policy responds and what to expect from your insurance when there are damages resulting from downed trees.
In our related article “Who is responsible when a tree falls?” we more closely examine the question of responsibility if a tree falls on a neighbor’s property.
Tree(s) downed on the premises
What happens if a tree is downed in your yard without damaging any structures or other property?
This is one area where there can be considerable differences between individual insurance companies and the coverage their policies provide that most people don’t recognize beforehand or even think to inquire about when they are shopping for home insurance.
Some home insurance policies provide no coverage whatsoever for tree debris removal expenses if a tree is downed on the property without damaging a covered structure. Other home policies will provide limited coverage for tree debris removal, typically ranging from $500 to $1,000 per occurrence. Coverage is customarily subject to the policy deductible.
Tree(s) downed on a covered structure
In addition to insuring the house, home insurance policies typically provide coverage for additional structures on the premises including detached garages, storage sheds, pole barns, fences, and pools.*
When a tree is downed on the house or another covered structure the home insurance policy will cover resulting damages to the structure – subject to the policy deductible and any applicable coverage limits.
There may still be limitations for the cost of removing tree debris when a tree falls on a covered structure, although the tree debris removal and structural damages would be considered one claim with the policy deductible only applying once to the cost of removing the tree debris and repairing the structure.
Tree(s) downed on a car, boat, motorcycle, snowmobiles, recreational vehicle, or travel trailer
A home insurance policy generally will not provide coverage for damages to any of these types of vehicles – items that are designed to be insured separately.
Regardless of whether they are stored in a garage or another building on the property, the only coverage for these types of vehicles would be if they are separately insured for physical damage. Typically they would be insured on a separate policy although certain types of recreational vehicles may be eligible to be insured on a rider added to a home policy.
This is another area where there can be a noteworthy difference between insurance companies that isn’t accounted for by simply comparing the price of their policies. There are some insurance companies that will only apply one deductible if there is a loss covered by multiple policies. What this means is if a tree falls damaging a garage and a vehicle parked in the garage, if both the home and vehicle were insured with one of these companies, only the larger of any applicable deductibles between the home and auto policies would apply to the combined loss.
* It is always advisable to discuss, with your agent, coverage for any detached structures on your property. Depending on the combined value of detached structures there may be a need to adjust policy coverage and/or depending on the use of any building(s) they may need to be separately insured.
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