Are you Covered?
Jeremy asked me this question the other day and with confidence I replied, “Yes, I would be.” This led us to discussion and research on this very topic so that we could correctly answer this question for our clients. No one was more surprised than I when we discovered that this may not be the case.
Your neighbor would have to submit a claim under their homeowner’s policy to pay for any necessary repairs. Wind and lightning are typically covered under standard policies and included coverages under all-risk policies. There is a chance that your neighbor could sue you to cover their deductible.
This doesn’t mean that you’re completely off the hook.
If the damage resulted from your negligence, you could be required to pay for the damage. For example, if your tree was dying or already dead before it fell and you did nothing about it, you could be held liable for any damage the tree caused. In addition, if your neighbor files a lawsuit alleging negligence, your insurance carrier would be required to defend you and investigate the claim. This doesn’t mean that you’re completely off the hook.
The best way to avoid something like this is to prevent it from ever happening. If a tree looks unhealthy or dead, contact an arborist to check it and remove any dead spots or even remove the entire tree. It used to be said that good fences make good neighbors, but now we can say that good, healthy trees can make happy neighbors.