Will Homeowner's Insurance Pay to Remove a Hazardous Tree?

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Unless you live in an arid environment, your home region is likely to be home to a range of native tree species. If you own a single-family home that features a yard or fenced-in area, chances are good that you have at least one such tree on your property. Even if it's not a particularly tall or wide, you might be worried about its potential to cause significant damage to the structure of your home during a violent windstorm, snowstorm or other weather event. In fact, you might be thinking about forestalling this eventuality by trimming or removing it entirely.

Unfortunately, tree removal can quickly become ruinously expensive. Most homeowner's insurance companies advise their policyholders against attempting to cut down or trim large trees without the help of a professional tree removal service. If you need to take down an old tree that features a massive crown and twisted root structure, you might need to lay out as much as $5,000 to ensure that the job is done properly.

To make matters worse, your homeowner's insurance company won't pay to remove a hazardous tree from your property. Under the terms of most homeowner's insurance policies, homeowners are required to perform any maintenance work that's necessary to prevent significant damage to their homes. This provision is often sweeping. In fact, homeowner's insurance companies interpret it to cover routine maintenance tasks like storm-proofing windows as well as more complicated jobs like removing potentially dangerous trees.

It can also have serious real-world consequences. If your homeowner's insurance company can prove that you failed to perform certain types of maintenance work, it may try to associate this failure with certain subsequent damages to your home. If it can do so successfully, it may refuse to pay out on claims related to these damages. As such, it's important that you keep your home and property in excellent repair. Although this could be expensive in the short term, it's liable to pay off in the event that you file a claim. After all, repairing a potential problem is usually far cheaper than paying for the catastrophic damage that it's likely to cause.

If one of the trees on your property falls on your house, your homeowner's insurance company will try to prove that the tree was dead or dying. If it can do so, it will accuse you of failing to take the necessary steps to remove the tree and use this "fact" as justification for denying your claim. In order to prevent this outcome, you'll need to pay for the removal of the tree out of your own pocket.

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