When High Winds and Old Trees Collide: What Does That Mean to Your Insurance?

There’s an old nursery rhyme that reminds us that March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers. Just as the unknown poet says, early spring can bring more than the beauty of blooming flowers. High winds and unpredictable weather are a hallmark of spring in the United States. If the past weekend’s high winds are any indication, spring may be ahead of schedule this year!
The greatest danger in high winds is the damage that they can cause to trees. High winds cost millions of dollars each year, mostly through fallen branches and trees. Even if a tree doesn’t land on your house or car, cleanup can be costly, which is yet another good reason to make sure that you, the homeowner, have a sufficient emergency fund available. If a tree or branch does fall on your house or car, what should you do? Call your independent insurance agent immediately.
Many people believe that if the affected tree was originally on their neighbors’ property, the neighbor should be the one to call, since their insurance will pay for it. This is not true. Your homeowners or car insurance policy will cover the damage regardless of who owned the tree. The Insurance Information Institute says “In most cases, an insurance company is not going to spend time trying to figure out where a tree or other item originally came from.” Even if there’s clear evidence, rather than accusing your neighbor, you can leave the bickering to the insurance companies, who may try to collect from the neighbor’s insurance company in a process called subrogation.
However, while nobody can guarantee that a bad storm won’t cause damage, healthy, well maintained trees are much less likely to succumb to storms. What can you do to protect your property against fallen trees and branches? Keep an eye on all your trees to make sure trees are healthy with this handy checklist. If you’re not sure, it’s always a good idea to have an expert opinion, so consider an expert tree inspection. If you’re not sure who to call in your area, the International Society of Arborists maintains national lists of certified arborists. This initial consultation with an arborist, particularly for first time home buyers, can save thousands later on.
If the worst happens and your roof has a large limb or tree on it, don’t try to fix it yourself! Call your insurance agent immediately and then call in a professional. If the tree limb has gone through the ceiling, you’ll want to make sure that the contents of the house are secure. Remove everything from the affected room and seal the area off from children and pets.

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