Video Podcast Explains Insurance Coverage for Fallen Trees and Shrubs
INSURANCE INFORMATION INSTITUTE
New York Press Office: (212) 346-5500; firstname.lastname@example.org
Washington Press Office: (202) 833-1580
NEW YORK, November 4, 2009 — One of the most frequent questions the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) receives from consumers each year concerns whether their insurance covers damage from fallen trees; there is clearly widespread confusion surrounding this issue.
In order to help consumers better understand what is and is not covered regarding trees and shrubs, the I.I.I. has created a podcast that can be viewed or downloaded from the I.I.I. Video page: Understanding Trees and Insurance. This podcast is also available on iTunes where it can be found by typing, “Insurance Information Institute” into the search field. The podcast is available in both English and Spanish.
“The coverage is really quite straightforward,” said Jeanne M. Salvatore, senior vice president and consumer spokesperson for the I.I.I. “If a tree hits a home or other insured structure, such as a detached garage, standard homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for the damage the tree does to the structure and the contents within it. This includes trees felled by a windstorm, hail, weight of ice, snow or sleet.”
It does not matter whether or not a tree was actually growing on your property; if it lands on your home, you should file a claim with your insurance company. After a hurricane or windstorm, trees, shrubs and branches can become projectiles capable of traveling significant distances and can cause considerable damage to property. In most cases, an insurance company is not going to spend time trying to figure out where a tree or other item originally came from.
“In some situations where the felled tree was located on a neighbor’s property, the policyholder’s insurance company may try to collect from the neighbor’s insurance company in a process called subrogation. This sometimes occurs if the tree was in poor health or not properly maintained. If the insurer is successful, you may be reimbursed for the deductible,” said Salvatore.
If a tree hits an insured structure, such as your house or garage, there is also coverage for the cost of removing the tree, generally up to about $500 to $1,000, depending on the insurer and the type of policy purchased. If the fallen tree did not hit an insured structure, there is generally no coverage for debris removal. However, some insurance companies may pay for the cost of removing the felled tree if it is blocking a driveway or a ramp designed to assist the handicapped.
Cars damaged or destroyed by falling trees are covered under the optional comprehensive portion of a standard auto insurance policy.
Standard home insurance policies also provide coverage for damage to trees and shrubs due to fire, lightning, explosion, theft, aircraft, vehicles not owned by the resident, vandalism and malicious mischief. Coverage for these disasters is generally limited to up to 5 percent of the amount of insurance on the structure of the house. Generally, most insurers will limit the coverage to about $500 for any one tree, shrub or plant. Trees and plants grown for business purposes require a separate business insurance policy, according to the I.I.I.
Reporters who would like a DVC Pro or Beta hard copy of the b-roll footage, please contact Susan Stolov at 202-638-3400 or Washindpro@aol.com.
The I.I.I. is a nonprofit, communications organization supported by the property/casualty insurance industry.