HON. NANCY HARVEY STEORTS: Former Chairman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
First Consumer Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture 
International Safety Consultant 
Author of 3 Highly Acclaimed Books on Safety
Television Commentator and Speaker
Tel: 703-790-5116
The Nation’s Foremost Authority on SAFETY

What Homeowners Insurance Covers When A Tree Topples Down

Written byStephanie Wilson, WUSA9

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- When it comes to moving all those fallen limbs and uprooted trees, who is responsible to cover the costs?

International safety expert and former chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Nancy Harvey Steorts share important information to help homeowners through the claim process

Check your individual homeowners policy for specific information on what is covered related to damage.

If a tree falls on your home, garage or other insured structure, it is covered under your standard homeowners policy for damage to structure and contents within.

If a tree falls on your neighbor's property, the claim is filed by the neighbor on their homeowner policy. However, if their insurance company should find that the tree was not taken care of properly or was diseased, they could try to collect from the person whose property the tree is on.

If the insured structure is not damaged, there is no coverage.

You need to check your specific insurance policy related to actual removal of the tree as to what expenses are covered.

If a tree blocks a driveway or a handicap ramp, removal may be covered.

If a tree falls onto a car, it will be covered under the comprehensive plan of your auto insurance policy.

For businesses, there are separate business policies for trees, and endorsements can be used for additional coverage for expensive landscaping.

Insurers give priority to those with the most devastating damage.

Damage from flooding is covered under a separate flood policy from FEMA, the National Flood Insurance Program.

For Hurricane deductibles, the policy should state an exact amount of the deductible, and it may depend on the "trigger" related to the specific wind speed. Check with your insurance agent or insurance company for the exact amount.

Be sure to document and journal everything that happened, take pictures or video of the property.

Receipts and cancelled checks are critical for your claim. Have a detailed inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property, descriptions of items, date of purchase, the age of items, cost at time of purchase, replacement cost.

Be sure to call and report the loss to your insurance company immediately.

Make temporary repairs without endangering yourself. Cover broken windows, damaged roofs, and get all receipts for the repairs.

Only use licensed, bonded and insured contractors. Check any contractor's references thoroughly. Always ask to see their license. Check with the Better Business Bureau and their references.

Make sure you have a detailed, line-by-line estimate for all repairs.

Be sure to upgrade your insurance policies, if you have significant improvements made to your home.

Check with your individual insurance company for all questions related to your individual situation.

If not satisfied with the way the claim is being handled, report it to the State Insurance Commissioners Office.

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