Trees: Maintenance and Damage
Every year, across our great state of Tennessee, falling trees and limbs cause millions of dollars’ worth of damage to homes. Why? What can homeowners do to prevent or minimize damage to their property? This type of home insurance advice and action could reduce some of the costly claims across the state of Tennessee each year.
Age, drought, wind, and rain can cause trees to become compromised and more likely to damage structures – including houses, fences, and outbuildings. But FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) says that a lot of this can be prevented:
“Three-fourths of the damage that trees incur during storms is predictable and preventable. Trees with wounds, decay, structural defects, stem girdling roots, severed roots and soil compaction are prime targets for experiencing storm damage.”
If you have trees that threaten your structures, you should consider trimming or cutting them to prevent costly and inconvenient removal and repair. Also, not maintaining the trees on your premises may open you up to liability exposure. Some questions to ask if you think your tree might need maintenance are:
- Is there any damage to the trunk? Cracking, hollowing, and decay are signs that a tree may need to be removed.
- Are the branches bare or cracking? If this is the case, the tree might be unhealthy.
- Are there limbs hanging close to a roof or power lines? These should be trimmed to prevent loss.
- Do the roots look damaged?
- Is the tree leaning to one side?
- Is there fungus growing on the tree?
If some of these things are present, it might be time to contact a trusted tree removal expert or insurance agent with contacts in your area. For suggestions/recommendations on picking the right contractor, please see “Selecting a Contractor“.
If a tree falls on a covered structure, your policy provides coverage to get the tree off of the covered structure and onto the ground. It does not pay for cutting, loading, and hauling away the tree. Also, the amount for tree removal may be limited by your policy.
Common Insurance Property Damage Question Regarding Trees
A common question that we get is “If my neighbor’s tree falls and damages my property, aren’t they responsible to pay to fix it?” Super question as the answer might not be what you think. In the state of Tennessee, premise liability law states that, as long as the neighbor’s tree was alive and healthy at the time of loss, the neighbor is not liable for damage that the tree does to your property.
So, if your neighbor’s tree falls and damages your property, call Farmers Mutual of Tennessee (FMT Insurance) and we’ll set up a claim to look at the damage.
If you have any questions, please speak with your local insurance agent or contact FMT Insurance to find the nearest Agent to assist you. Another excellent resource to utilize is the “Incidental Property Coverage” section of your policy.