Does homeowners insurance cover tree removal?

Mon Sep 25 2023

A tree broken by the wind lies next to a private home

If a tree falls on your home or property, does your homeowners insurance help with some of the tree removal costs? The answer is: it depends. Most homeowners insurance provides limited coverage for damage to trees and removal of the tree.

Coverage typically applies to:

  • The cost to replace a tree damaged by a covered peril listed in the policy.

  • The cost to remove a fallen tree that is on covered property.

  • The cost to remove the debris of a tree felled by wind that damages covered property.

  • Damage to a neighbor’s property that is claimed against your liability coverage.

When does homeowners insurance cover tree removal?

Tree removal is only covered by home insurance in certain situations. If a tree falls and doesn’t cause any structural damage to your dwelling or another structure – meaning no repairs are needed – your homeowners insurance policy typically doesn’t cover removing it.

If a fallen tree damages your home, your insurance company may still have some investigating to do to determine whether your policy covers the damage and debris removal. What causes the tree to fall is essential in deciding whether or not you'll have coverage. If the tree falls because of a covered peril, the resulting property damage and removal is usually covered if the tree is otherwise healthy.

Home insurance policies typically cover physical damage on either a named-peril or open-peril basis. A named-peril policy offers narrower protection with a list of specific perils that it covers. If your tree falls on your home because of a peril listed in the policy, both the damage to your home and the removal of the tree off covered property is usually covered. 

Named-perils policies typically cover damage from:

  • Fire and smoke.

  • Lightning.

  • Windstorms and hail.

  • Explosions.

  • Vandalism or malicious mischief.

  • Damage from an aircraft or vehicle.

  • Theft.

  • Falling objects.

  • Weight of ice, snow, or sleet; or water damage due to ice, snow, or sleet.

  • Volcanic eruption.

  • Accidental water overflow or steam.

  • Sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning, or bulging of certain household systems.

  • Freezing.

  • Sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current.

Other homeowners policies are written with open-perils coverage. Also called all-risk policies, they cover any perils that’s not explicitly excluded. Standard exclusions can vary, but most open-perils policies exclude coverage for damage caused by floods, war, intentional acts, earthquakes, and more. 

Important to note: Policies in some states explicitly exclude windstorm damage from coverage. In other cases, wind damage might be covered but subject to a separate deductible.

What coverages apply when my tree falls on my house? 

Homeowners insurance typically includes certain categories of coverage. If your fallen tree removal is covered by insurance, it may fall under several coverage types, depending on how or where the fallen tree causes damage. 

First, your dwelling coverage (Coverage A) kicks in for damage to your home's structure. If a tree falls on your home and causes damage, your dwelling coverage likely pays for repairing the damage and removing the tree off of covered property  – up to your coverage limits. 

If a tree falls on and damages your garage, shed, or some other outbuilding or structure (e.g., your pool enclosure), then your claim falls under your other structures coverage (Coverage B). Other structures coverage works like dwelling coverage but applies to physical damage to structures on your property other than your primary residence. 

Whichever coverage part applies, your policy can help pay to remove the tree from the home or covered structure. It can help with the expense of moving the tree away from the damaged structure so the structure can be inspected and ultimately repaired. These costs are covered up to the policy limit available for the property that has been damaged, but the coverage does not apply to any of the costs to remove the actual tree debris from the property.

Who is responsible if my tree falls on a neighbor's house? 

These can be difficult claims and put you in an uncomfortable position with the neighbor. One important thing to keep in mind is that if an act of God causes your tree to fall on your neighbor’s home, you’re normally not responsible for the loss. In these cases, you want to ask your neighbor to report their claim to their own insurance provider.

If however, your tree fell as a result of a rotted or dead tree, your neighbor could file a claim against your liability coverage. When this happens, your insurer will likely investigate to see if there was any negligence on your part, so you want to take good photos of the condition of the tree and tree trunk before it's discarded. This is also why tree maintenance is so important.

When is tree removal not covered by home insurance? 

Preventive tree removal is never covered by home insurance. This is a home maintenance issue that, while costly, is a common problem that homeowners face. So if you think a tree on your property is unsightly or undesirable, you need to pay for its removal out of your own pocket.

The same goes for removing rotten trees. While it's essential to get rid of an unhealthy or dead tree to avoid any damage it could cause if it falls, your home insurance doesn’t help you pay for it. 

Finally, your home insurance probably doesn’t cover tree removal after a flood or earthquake. Neither of these are covered perils in most policies.

How much does tree removal typically cost? 

The cost to remove a dead or at-risk tree from your property depends on factors unique to your situation, including: 

  • The size of the tree.

  • The type of tree.

  • The general area of your property where the tree is (i.e., how easy or difficult is it for the tree removal service to access the tree).

The average tree removal cost is $1,100, but the price can vary significantly. Removal of large, rigid, or dense trees or trees that are hard to access cost more than smaller, uncomplicated removals.


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