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It’s "What If" Wednesday: Windstorm Coverage

Welcome to “What If” Wednesday!

Join us each Wednesday for an answer to another “What If” insurance question.  Everyday questions for everyday life – answered right here on the McClain Insurance blog at AutoHomeBoat.Wordpress.com

If you have a “What If” question that you’d like answered, please simply submit a comment below, or send an e-mail to claudia[at]mcagent.org.

 

What If My Tree Falls On My House In A Windstorm?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions in our office this time of year.  And with good reason!  Weather-related losses – especially due to windstorm – are by far more common than fire-related claims.

The good news is that most homeowner’s policies cover windstorm damage.

If your tree falls on your house, your homeowner’s policy will cover the damage up to the policy limits, minus your deductible.  This applies for your house, other buildings (such as a shed) and fences.

If the tree damages a covered structure (like your house or a shed), your policy may also pay for debris removal.  However, if the tree came down without doing any damage to your house, your policy will not pay for debris removal.

What if my tree falls on my neighbor’s house?

If your tree falls on your neighbor’s house, the basic (and almost always applied) rule is that the insurance policy of the property that was damaged pays for the loss.  In other words, if the tree falls on your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s homeowner’s insurance will pay.

What if my neighbor’s tree falls on my house?

Again, the policy of the property damaged will pay.  In other words, if your neighbor’s tree falls on your house, your homeowner’s policy applies.

Now, here is an example that is extremely rare (so rare, in fact, that we have never encountered it in over 33 years in the business):  If you worry that your neighbor’s diseased or weak tree might come down on your home in the next windstorm you should speak with your neighbor about your concerns.  If your neighbor doesn’t agree to remove the tree have it evaluated by an arborist.  (You may have to pay for these services yourself.)  Then send a registered letter with return receipt requesting the removal. If the tree does come down, you might have a case against the neighbor’s homeowner’s coverage.

Keep in mind – a neighbor can’t be compelled to remove a tree, and can’t be held responsible for negligence if a healthy tree does come down.  It is more than likely that your insurance will apply for the claim.

Consider if sending a letter is worth risking neighborly relationship.

What if a tree falls on my car?

Damage to your car is only covered by the comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy.  If you don’t have comprehensive coverage, the damage to your car will not be covered.  (This is why it makes sense to keep this coverage active even on older cars.)  Damage to your neighbor’s car would be covered by the comprehensive coverage on your neighbor’s auto policy.

Again, it doesn’t matter whose tree came down:  The comprehensive coverage of the damaged vehicle is responsible for the loss.

For more information or a free quote on homeowner’s insurance, please visit our website at www.AutoHomeBoat.com.

Please note:  The information in this blog is illustrated in examples and refers to insurance law in Washington State.  Actual claims scenarios might vary, be subject to different regulations in other states, and/or be subject to exceptions and exclusions of your particular insurance contract.  If you have a claim, please contact your agent or insurance company directly for answers on coverage questions.
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