If a tree falls, who’s responsible? By Marty Skidmore
Storms are just one cause of downed trees that damage property. Living in Fairfield or Westchester County we have the coastal exposure as well as heavily wooded regions within a few 1000 feet of the water. This combination creates perfect conditions for trees to fall over with heavy winds and/or heavy snowfall.
Fallen trees and branches are a significant cause of damage and power loss after a natural disaster. If a neighbor’s tree falls on your property and causes damage, who is responsible?
In most cases, it’s your homeowner insurance policy that will cover the cost of the damages, subject to the policy’s coverage language. (disclaimer, if the tree doesn’t hit a structure, there is a good chance that your homeowner’s insurance policy will have a cap in coverage or no coverage to take the tree away). At first, that may not seem fair. But reverse the situation: What if YOUR tree fell on your neighbor’s yard causing damage? Your neighbor would be responsible for the repair and cleanup of the property.
Keep in mind that lightning or wind isn’t anyone’s fault; it’s just an act of Mother Nature.
However, Mother Nature may not always be in charge. In those cases, responsibility may be with the tree’s owner. For example, if your do-it-yourself neighbor attempts to cut down the tree and is negligent in the process, your neighbor may be responsible for damage to your property. In addition, if the tree was diseased and your neighbor was aware of its condition in advance, this could create a level of negligence that could make them liable. Of course, the same would be true for you if your tree happened to fall on their property.
If you feel that one of your neighbors’ tree may be at risk of causing damage to your property. The best thing to do is send them a certified letter stating the tree in concern. Once this is sent, if the tree of concern causes damage to your property, your neighbors’ insurance will be liable for the damage.
The best recommendation is to carefully inspect the trees on your property and take action to prevent hazardous conditions. Consider hiring a professional arborist who can detect diseased trees or trim dead branches that could fall and cause damage.
Finally, review the coverage in your homeowner policy and check with your local, independent agent if you have any questions.
For more information reach out to Daigle & Travers Insurance. We have three convenient locations in Connecticut: Wilton, Darien, and Westport. One of our many experienced insurance professionals will be able to guide you throw the insurance process. We can be reached at 203-655-6974 or at email@example.com