Keeping trees healthy makes your home attractive. However, unattended trees can become a safety and liability issue that you’ll want to avoid.
Here are a few tips for keeping your trees in tip-top shape and what safety, insurance, and liability factors you should consider.
Include Trees in Your Maintenance Schedule
You probably clean the gutters and check the condition of your roof, but what about your trees?
Consider adding them to your monthly home maintenance schedule. Walk around your property and visually inspect these gems for signs or damage, pests, or disease. These all weaken trees and make them more vulnerable to storms.
National Grid Rhode Island states trees are the leading cause of power outages in Rhode Island. Prune away branches that could damage your home or touch power lines. Also mulch around the base to protect them from inclement weather which is increasingly harsh due to climate change.
Implications on Your Property
Standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage to your house and belongings, providing you keep your trees healthy. However, damage caused by a dead, diseased, or pest-ridden tree can be another matter. Your insurance company may deny your claim.
If a healthy tree damages your home, your policy will cover the expense up to the policy property damage limit. It may cover the cost of dislodging the tree from your home and disposal, but these activities include separate limits. Check your policy as these processes can be very costly.
If a healthy tree damages your car, your auto insurance policy will protect you if you have comprehensive coverage.
If one of your poorly maintained trees falls on a neighbor’s property, you may be liable for their damage. While your neighbor’s insurance policy might pay initially, their insurance company may seek reimbursement through your insurance company. This will probably lead to higher insurance premiums and could potentially involve a costly lawsuit if an agreement can’t be reached.
You should also consider the health of your neighbor’s trees. Let them know if you notice an issue. If they don’t attend to it, send them a letter or email so you have a written record for insurance purposes.
If a neighbor’s unhealthy tree does fall on your property causing damage, you will need to file a claim through your insurer. Your written record may be proof of negligence. Your insurance company will probably try to collect for your neighbor’s policy. If they succeed, you could be reimbursed for your deductible.
A standard homeowners insurance policy usually provides coverage for tree and shrub damage caused by covered perils. This may include fire, theft, vandalism, explosion, lightning, and damage caused by non-resident vehicles. However, policies usually limit the amount per item to around $500.
If you don’t understand the clauses in your homeowners insurance policy, give us a call! We can help you close any insurance gaps that could cost you dearly if you don’t attend to them.