TREE ON YOUR RIDE: Will insurance cover the cost?
If a tree falls onto your home, state farm agent Kerry Smith says your homeowner's policy will likely cover the damages.
After a long dry spell across the Tennessee Valley, heavy spring rains and strong winds have kept tree services and insurance companies busy.
More rain on Thursday didn't keep Blewett Tree Service from finishing a job in north Chattanooga. Trees blocked a portion of Minnekahda Place after a recent storm blew them down. Owner Dustin Blewett says he and his crew are thankful for the extra business even though they are working a lot of overtime.
"We're just trying to deal with everybody we can. It's been long days without a day off," says Blewett.
They've been helping customers who have trees in their yards and on their homes. If a tree falls onto your home, state farm agent Kerry Smith says your homeowner's policy will likely cover the damages.
"If that tree is a healthy tree and it falls down due to an act of god, then that tree is covered under the customer's coverage because it's their property that's damaged," explains Smith.
Even if the tree damages a neighbor's home, your neighbor's policy should cover the damages. The exception is if the tree is later found to be diseased. Smith says all homeowners should have their trees inspected regularly.
"A certified arborist really knows how to look at a tree to help determine whether or not it's a threat," says Smith.
If you have a downed tree, Smith suggests you hire a professional tree removal company. Otherwise you could do more damage to your roof and cancel out your coverage. Also, you don't have to wait to call a tree service before filing a claim.
"Some people wait to deal with or wait until they get a confirmation from insurance, but you don't necessarily have to," says Blewett.
If the downed tree is simply an eyesore on your your lawn, it's your responsibility to pay for the removal if you can't do it yourself.
"If the tree just fell into your yard and there's no damage to your personal property, there's not coverage, generally, under your homeowner's policy," adds Smith. This is because a downed tree that doesn't cause damage is an infrequent occurrence.
Smith says make sure the tree removal company you want to use is licensed, insured, and bonded. Also, if a downed tree damages a vehicle that's on your property file a claim with your auto insurance, not homeowners.