Windstorms, Trees, and Insurance

Davis County recently experienced a major windstorm.  That’s probably an understatement considering the immense power and the amount of damage it caused.  As you can imagine, it turned out to be a pretty busy few days for those of us in insurance.  In the aftermath of the windstorm, I had an experience that highlights some aspects of a homeowner’s policy that we should all be aware of. After the wind had died down, my brother-in-law called me to report that his neighbor’s tree had blown over on to his home.  The tree belonged to the lady next door.  Neighbor Lady has a friend that says he can get a crane over to lift the tree off of her neighbor’s (my brother-in-law) house.  She thinks that’s a great idea…initially. When the $400 bill comes, Neighbor Lady calls my brother-in-law, telling him he needs to pay the bill since the tree was on his home.  Before this, he and I had had a discussion about liability coverage and why he’s NOT responsible for the cost to remove the tree from his house.  Rather, his insurance is only responsible for the damage to his house.  He explains to Neighbor lady why it’s not his responsibility.  Besides, he didn’t order the crane, nor was he asked prior whether he’d pay the bill if a crane was summoned. Neighbor Lady wasn’t too happy about this…she went ballistic!  My brother-in-law called me asking, “What do I say?  She’s screaming!!!”  I told him to try telling Neighbor Lady that her tree was trespassing, and he has no obligation to cover the tree removal.  We were hoping the word “trespassing” would get her attention, and that some rational thinking on her part would follow.  I understand no one wants expenses when it’s not their fault, and I’m sorry she got a bill.  But stuff happens. So what do we learn from this experience?  During an event where no one has control, such as crazy, destructive windstorms, damage to your home or cars from other’s flying property (trees, shingles, siding, etc.) can be covered by your own homeowners and/or auto comprehensive policies.  But these policies don’t extend to clean up your neighbor’s issues.

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