It May Be Time to Chop Down That Tree!

As much as you prize that large, beautiful tree in your yard, it might be a good idea to remove it at some point. Though they may improve the beauty of your property and provide welcome shade during sweltering summers, large trees can also pose a significant hazard to your home as well as your neighbor’s home. This can affect your home insurance in two ways: property damage coverage for your house and liability coverage for damage to your neighbor’s house. Consider the possibility of damage before the next storm season and take the necessary steps to minimize risk from a downed tree.

Even without winds and rain, trees have the potential to fall and cause damage and injury. A tree that appears to be healthy on the outside may still be sick and can fall without warning. This can also happen with perfectly healthy trees. A recent story in the Washington Post detailed the problems with older trees when a century-old oak tree suddenly fell over and crushed a man to death while he was in his car. This tragic event could have been prevented if the tree had been removed, especially since it showed obvious signs of decay, according to the article.

Certainly not all trees need to be removed, but you would be prudent to evaluate the foliage on your property. Do you have a tree that has branches extending on to your neighbor’s property? If so, you should consider having the tree trimmed to prevent those branches from falling on your neighbor’s property, as this could be a nuisance as well as cause damage. In fact, any damage caused by your tree is a potential liability risk to you and the personal liability coverage on your home insurance policy. Many people only consider the potential of property damage when evaluating their trees, but injury is a very real and serious threat. For example, in a move to prevent further damage or injury, the city of Newport Beach in California removed nearly 100 trees in 2011 after a woman was killed by a falling tree in the median of a busy road.

Even if your tree doesn’t have the potential to injure or damage others, consider how it may impact your own home regardless of where you live – Louisville, Memphis, Mesa, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City – accidents with trees can happen anywhere. Most home insurance policies will reimburse you for damage from a fallen tree. There’s even an additional limit for removal of the damaged tree and debris. However, did you know that if a tree simply falls in your yard and does not cause damage to your house, your home insurance policy likely will not reimburse you for its removal? This could end up being a large, unexpected expense to deal with on an out-of-pocket basis.

Consider all of the above and include your trees as part of the overall home maintenance regime. Proper care of your trees can lead to a long and happy coexistence, but there’s no benefit in having the largest or oldest tree on the block if you don’t take the time to care for it and monitor it for signs of decay or illness. Those bragging rights may end up costing you a tremendous amount of money.

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