If your property has been damaged from a fallen tree from Wednesday’s storms, you might be wondering what to do next. Here are some tips from David Colmans, the executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service.
- If a tree hits a home or other insured structure, such as a detached garage, standard homeowner insurance policies will provide coverage for the damage the tree does to the structure and its contents. This includes trees that have fallen from wind or hail.
- Regardless of who owns the tree, if it lands on your home, the homeowner should file a claim with their insurance company. In some cases, if the tree was located on a neighbor’s property, the policy holder’s insurance company may try to collect from the neighbor’s insurance company.
- If the tree hits an insured structure, there is also coverage for the cost of removing the tree, typically $500 to $1,000. If the tree did not hit an insured structure, there is usually no coverage for debris removal. Some insurance companies may pay for the cost of tree removal if it is blocking a driveway or ramp that assists the handicapped.
- Cars damaged or destroyed by falling trees are covered under the optional comprehensive portion of a standard auto policy, which many people with older vehicles drop, Colmans said. Those who rent homes and don’t have comprehensive coverage might have to pay the cost of debris removal on their vehicles.
- Standard home-insurance policies also provide coverage for damage to trees and shrubs from fire, lightning, explosion, theft, aircraft, vehicles not owned by the resident, vandalism and malicious mischief, Colmans said. Coverage for these disasters is usually limited up to 5 percent of the amount of insurance on the structure of the house.
- Be aware of tree removal scammers that submit final bills in the thousands of dollars. It is best to work with tree-removal professionals you know personally or by reputation. Seek advice from your insurer before engaging in any tree-removal service.