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.

Tricks, Not Treats: Winter Storms and Power Outages

The East coast had a surprise snow storm that has derailed Halloween plans from Maryland to Maine. Many cities and towns need time to clean up downed trees, limbs, and power lines before it is safe for kids ghosts and goblins to go house to house. Plus, power restoration is still a work in progress for any communities.

This is just a teaser of events yet to come. The Insurance Information Institute has provided a breakdown of Winter Storm Facts. When adjusted for inflation, Winter Storms have caused about $26 billion in insured catastrophe losses since 1991, resulting more than $1 billion a year in damage on average. Last year, winter storm losses totaled $2.6 billion, the highest it’s been since 2003.

In this unprecedented October storm almost a million households were left without power. The FDA site has tips for keeping food safe during and after power outages. Refrigerated foods should be fine if the door remains shut and the power was out for no less than 4 hours, but for many households in the Northeast this was not the case. Follow their safety tips to prevent illness after the storm.

If your home or auto suffered damage from falling tree limbs, call your insurance agent.

Here’s a brief video on the topic:

By most accounts winter hasn’t even started yet – the winter season doesn’t even officially start until December 22nd and already the Northeast is getting an early taste of it. If you have questions about your insurance coverage and whether you are adequately protected against storm-related loss, talk to your insurance agent.