Does homeowners insurance cover tree removal?

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Trees can add beauty and a sense of peace to neighborhoods. Because of this, many home buyers seek out neighborhoods and even specific homes with mature trees. Before you buy a tree-laden lot, though, you may want to consider the damage that trees could cause to your home, and whether your home insurance would cover it if this happens.

Does homeowners insurance cover tree removal? The answer is relatively complex. You may have coverage for some scenarios and not for others. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team breaks down the ins and outs of tree removal insurance coverage to help you choose policy options that are right for you.

Common types of damage caused by trees on your property

While having trees on your property can be aesthetically pleasing, trees do come with maintenance costs and can even cause damage to the home in a number of ways, including:

  • Damage to roofs: Tree limbs that overhang your home can be knocked down during storms, damaging your roof and even falling into your house.
  • Damage to siding: Limbs can also blow into your siding or repeatedly rub against your home and cause scratching or deeper damage.
  • Interior water damage: If a tree limb or an entire tree has fallen onto or against your house during a storm, you may have rain coming inside, which can cause interior water damage.
  • Damage to service lines: The roots of your trees can grow into service lines, like your water or gas lines, and cause damage.
  • Blocked driveways: If a tree falls across your driveway, you may need to have it removed to get your vehicles out.

When will homeowners insurance cover tree removal?

Home insurance covers tree damage and tree removal in certain scenarios. Generally, if a tree or limb falls onto your home, onto a detached structure like a garage or shed, or is blocking your driveway, your policy could cover the removal, up to your limit. However, the reason that the tree falls is important. Removal may be covered if a tree falls under the following scenarios, but only if it falls on your home, an outbuilding or your driveway:

  • Windstorm
  • Hail storms
  • Under the weight of ice or snow
  • Lightning and the resulting fire
  • Other covered perils listed in your policy

Keep in mind, though, that all policies are different. Talk to your agent about the specifics of your policy to better understand what’s covered.

When will homeowners insurance not cover tree removal?

Not all tree removal scenarios are covered. Your home insurance company could deny removal coverage if a tree falls in the following situations:

  • During a flood
  • During an earthquake
  • If the tree is dead
  • If the tree is rotted
  • If the tree is not well maintained

You may be wondering, “Will homeowners insurance pay for dead tree removal?” or “Does homeowners insurance cover preventative tree removal?” The answer to both is no. These scenarios are considered maintenance and are part of the cost of having trees on your property. If a tree is dead or needs to be removed as a preventative measure, your home insurance is not likely to pay.

Will my home policy cover tree damage that occurs to my neighbor’s house?

Not usually. If a tree on your lot falls onto your neighbor’s home due to a covered peril, your neighbor’s home insurance policy is generally going to pay for the damages. Your home policy doesn’t cover damage to your neighbor’s house, regardless of whose tree falls.

The only way that your policy will kick in is if you are found liable for the damages. If you know that a tree is dead, rotted or otherwise, and poses a threat to your neighbor’s home, but you do not act to remove the tree, you may be found negligent. Your neighbor could sue you to prove your negligence and ask for the damage to be paid.

How much does my home policy pay for if I need to remove fallen trees?

How much does insurance pay for tree removal? It depends on your policy. Many standard policies include $500 to $1,000 in debris removal coverage, although some companies may consider debris removal coverage to be a percentage of your overall loss. For example, if a tree falls and causes $5,000 in damage to your home and you only have 5% debris removal coverage, your policy may pay up to $250 to remove the tree.

You may be able to increase this amount with an endorsement. If you have several trees or particularly large trees on your lot, you may want to consider increasing your coverage.

Frequently asked questions

Why won’t my home insurance cover the removal of a dead tree?

Home insurance is designed to cover sudden and accidental damages. If you have a dead tree on your property, the damage caused by the tree is not necessarily sudden. You know that the tree could fall and cause damage, and it is your responsibility as a homeowner to protect your property. Maintaining the health of the trees on your property, which includes removing any trees that pose a threat to your home, is part of home maintenance.

How do I know if my tree could fall on my house?

Trees that overhang your roof or have branches too near your home may put your house at risk. Additionally, trees that are large enough to fall on your home if they topple under a prevailing wind may also be a problem. Typically, having a relatively clear area that is free from trees around your home is a good idea. If you’re unsure about the health of a tree, talk to a landscaper to evaluate it.

How much does tree removal cost?

The cost to remove a dead or risky tree from your property may depend on a number of factors, including the size of the tree (bigger trees will usually cost more), the type of tree (some trees are physically harder than others) and the surrounding area (tight spaces could make removal more difficult). This Old House, a popular home renovation program, lists the average tree removal cost between $700 and $750, although it can be much lower or higher. Contacting a tree surgeon for a quote is the best way to know how much you’ll pay for tree removal.

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