Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Who Pays for Falling Trees?

During a ferocious hurricane, one of the trees on Joan Fletcher's property came crashing down on the house of neighbor, Mark Tyson. Whose home insurance pays for the damage?

The answer may surprise you: Mark's Generally, the rule is that the property owner whose house has been damaged by a tree is the one who files the claim with the insurance company. As long as the tree was in good health, and no one could have predicted its fall, then Joan is off the hook. Since in this case, the tree fell down on Mark's house because of a hurricanean uncontrollable natural disasterJoan can't be held responsible.

But what happens when a tree falls down because it was damaged of diseased? Then the situation becomes a lot more complicated. In this case, the property owner can try to hold the tree owner liable for the damages. If the property owner does sue he tree owner, then the tree owner's insurance policy will pay for the defense and the damages, up to the policy limit.

So what should you do if you suspect that your neighbor's tree is damaged and is in danger of falling on your house? The best plan is to have qualified person inspect the tree. If your expert determines that there is a problem, then he or she should write a letter to the tree owner, return receipt requested. This way, if the tree owner doesn't do anything to take care of the problem, and the tree does fall on your house, you're in the best shape to win a case against the tree owner.

If you're the one with the potentially problematic trees, then you should do everything possible to protect yourself against an expensive lawsuit from your neighbor. Have your trees maintained or examined each year, and consider taking them down if the expert finds a problem. If you don't want to take them down, then protect yourself with an umbrella policy that provides secondary coverage for legal liability, well above the homeowner's policy. This way, if worse comes to worsethe tree falls, and your neighbor suesyour insurance company will be covering the damages.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog