Planting a tree in your yard can be beneficial to your family. Not only do trees provide beauty, they offer many additional benefits such as:

  • Cleaning the air we breath
  • Increasing your home’s value
  • Providing shelter for birds and other animals
  • Preventing soil erosion
  • Reducing rainwater runoff
  • Helping reduce stress and anxiety

While severe weather can bring down trees, causing property damage, it’s important to realize there are other reasons a tree or branch may fall. Reasons include insect infestations, old age, poor soil conditions, malnutrition, and flooding.

Signs your tree could fall

There’s no way to tell exactly when or if your tree is going to fall. However, there are some things to watch for.

  1. Leaning tower of Pisa. There are several trees in my neighborhood that are leaning. However, at this point they’re smaller and of no concern. If you have large trees in your yard that have a significant lean, it may be time to contact a professional to discuss their removal. Tree lean can be caused by wind or root damage.
  2. Inadequate nutrients. If you notice dead or falling branches, it may be the result of a lack of nutrients. Thoroughly inspect your tree(s). If the branches are low and small, you may be able to remove them yourself. If not, contact a professional for assistance.
  3. Falling leaves. Leaves can fall from your tree(s) for a variety of reasons such as:
    1. Disease
    2. Too much or too little water
    3. Canopy crowding

If fallen leaves are green, your tree is probably fine. If the leaves are discolored or look sick, there may be an issue. In addition, if the leaves are falling from the outside in there may be a root issue. Lastly, some diseases or pests can attack the tree and destroy it over time which can weaken the tree and pose a threat to your family.

  1. Proximity to water. Living on a waterfront is a dream of many. However, watch out for trees that are close to the water. Excessive water can cause the roots to become waterlogged. Over time, this can cause them to decay and decrease structural stability.
  2. Cracks in the trunk. It’s normal for trees to have cracks or holes. If they’re large, it’s important to have them examined to see how extensive they are. They could be a sign of a diseased tree and again, the structural integrity can be compromised.

Tips for maintaining healthy trees

  1. Proper mulch. Mulch can help retain moisture which is good for the tree’s root system. It also keeps the soil cool and can prevent weeds from growing.
  2. Adequate water. Newly planted trees need to be watered regularly. Mature trees need to be watered during times of drought. Set your hose at the base of the tree and let your water flow at a slow trickle for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Proper pruning can improve the strength and structure of your trees. However, it’s important to make the proper cuts at the correct time of the year. To learn more, click here.
  4. Watch for unwanted insects. Insects such as Japanese beetles, Adelgids, and caterpillars can invade your trees without you knowing. These pests can cause serious damage, including weakening the tree. If your tree is small, you may be able to spray an insecticide on it. If it’s too big, you may be able to use a granular powder that not only provides nutrients but also prevents insects. If in doubt, contact your local tree professional for assistance.

If your trees are not properly maintained, there may not be coverage on your homeowners policy.

Claims Scenarios

A common claim scenario that insureds deal with after a storm is fallen trees. High winds and saturated ground can create the perfect storm. Most standard homeowners policies provide some coverage.

Claim Scenario 1

A tornado rolls through the outskirts of your city. While your house wasn’t directly hit by it, tree branches flew through the air, breaking windows and damaging your siding. Even though your trees survived and didn’t cause this damage, a standard homeowners policy would provide property damage coverage.

Claim Scenario 2

As you’re enjoying a nice summer day on your patio, you notice dark clouds approaching. As the trees begin to sway, you decide to take shelter indoors. After the storm passes, you survey the damage and find a downed tree and damaged shrubs. As a result, you contact your independent insurance agent to see if you have coverage. A standard homeowners policy could provide coverage for up to $500 for the removal of any one tree and up to $1,000 for any one loss. Unless stated differently in the policy, your homeowners deductible would apply to this type of loss.

Claim Scenario 3

As you’re preparing dinner, a severe summer storm passes through. You hear a loud noise and notice the neighbor’s tree has fallen on your property. After further inspection, you realize the tree has crashed down on your roof causing significant damage. In this scenario, not only are you responsible for the cleanup, you’d have to contact your independent agent to see if coverage is available for the damage your home sustained.

If you can prove the neighbor’s tree was dead, diseased, or not properly maintained, your neighbor could be responsible for your property damage due to negligence.

Claim Scenario 4

After a trip to the grocery store, you arrive home and leave your car parked in the driveway. Suddenly, a severe summer storm blows into your neighborhood. High winds cause large trees surrounding your home to fall on your roof and your car, causing significant damage. In this scenario, a standard homeowners policy covers damage caused by a fallen tree if the cause of loss (peril) is wind. To have coverage for your car, you must have an auto policy with comprehensive insurance coverage.