About Wind- and Tree-Related Damage Claims
Apr 27, 2018 06:00AM ● Published by Pamela Johnson
Did you notice the expression “insured structures” in the previous paragraph? If you did, it’s a sign you understand policy language better than most. An insured structure can be anything man-made on your property, including a house, shed, pool, driveway, walkway, swing set or swimming pool. If a branch or tree falls on an insured structure, your insurer will pay to remove it from the structure and then provide you with only another $500 beyond that. They also pay for damage caused to the insured structure. If your house is damaged, the settlement will likely be made on a full, replacement-cost basis—which is good for you; but, if the damage is to some other structure, such as a shed, garage, fence or pool, the settlement will likely be made on an actual cash-value basis—which is bad for you. Basically, if any insured structure other than the main house is damaged, depreciation is taken into account; then the deductible is applied.
When falling trees take out the power to your house, food can spoil. Although your food is considered contents, and coverage might apply, it’s a rare occasion when the value of spoiled food is high enough to warrant filing a claim. Some of our clients opt to purchase food spoilage coverage, which has a lower deductible. Still, I’ll discourage them from filing small claims for fear their homeowner carrier won’t renew their policy if even two small claims are filed within a few years. Better they consider investing in a generator for their house as a different kind of “insurance” for power outages.
A common fallen-tree claim I’ve written about previously involves the case when a neighbor’s tree falls half on their property and half on your property. If you recall, the general rule accepted within the insurance industry is that whatever portion of a fallen tree is on your property is now your problem. This is true even when everyone agrees that the offending tree or branch fell from the neighbor’s property.