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Falling Trees: What You Need to Know About Your Insurance

That old oak in the backyard may be plenty sturdy for a tire swing but under the right (or wrong) circumstances, it may pose a risk to your home. Strong storms can bring down even the sturdiest of trees and the less-sturdy trees on or near your property can be an even bigger risk.

If a tree falls on your home, your home insurance policy may provide coverage — but whether your policy provides coverage depends on a few factors.

If the tree was healthy and caused damage to your home, it’s likely that your policy will help pay for the repairs to your home. A standard home insurance policy insures your home and personal property against damage. There are some limitations to consider, though. Many policies provide actual cash value (ACV) coverage for personal property, so if any of your belongings are damaged, you may be paid a depreciated value. Roof coverage may also provide prorated coverage. A roof is considered a wear item and some policies adjust the roof coverage amount based on age. Expect repairs to your home itself to be covered in full, minus your deductible and subject to coverage limits, in most cases.

Where a falling tree can cause the most financial risk is when the tree is not healthy and either falls on its own or falls during a storm — but would likely have fallen soon anyway. Insurers view a dead or rotting tree as a maintenance item and it’s possible that your policy may not provide coverage. Be aware of any sick or dead trees on or near your property and take steps to have dead trees removed. Not only are dead trees a risk to property, they’re simply dangerous, especially if there are children in the area.

If a tree falls in your yard and doesn’t damage anything, most insurers won’t pay to have the tree or debris removed. Contact an insured tree service company to help with the removal if needed.

Liability can also be a concern with trees. An unhealthy tree on your property that causes damage to a neighbour’s home can become a home insurance claim for your neighbour and a personal liability claim for you. For the sake of safety alone, take steps to remove unhealthy trees or trees that pose a heightened risk.

If you haven’t reviewed your coverage lately, just reach out to your agent or broker to schedule a review. A policy review is the perfect opportunity to ask questions and to adjust your coverage as needed to protect your family in the best way.