Seeking Advice - Homeowner's Insurance vs Nature

3 Replies

Hello! I'm a new homeowner who embarked on a house hacking journey about a month ago. Everything has been going great, until last week. Mother Nature decided to drop one medium size tree on a small section of the vinyl fence that runs the length of the property. Not a huge deal and I confirmed the cost will be covered by the town since the tree was on town property.

Last night, a little further down, a much larger tree fell and took out other, larger sections of the same fence. The town's tree warden had to come out to assess other trees along the street and determined he will be cutting down at least two of them (if these two came down, they're definitely coming onto/ into the house).

Have you run into a situation like this before? If yes, what was the impact on your homeowner's insurance? My fence guy is not able to get to this work until the spring and was hesitant to even write up a quote now given the current cost of materials and the supply/demand madness. I'm waiting for a call back from my insurance agent and I will update this post with any new findings, but curious to know who else has been in a scenario like this.

Happy holidays!

G

Hi Gary, the "other structures" portion of your insurance will definitely cover the fence. However, there will be a deductible as well as a claim on your insurance report for years to come. If I were you, I would let the city fix the damages when they can get to it and make temporary fixes for now. 

Gary,

This can be a confusing situation because most insureds/people want to go back to "who owns and maintains the tree".  This is fine to a point, but no one can control mother nature, or where mother nature decides to toss a tree (on someone's fence, car, or 3 houses down).  This being the case, most of the time the person with the property damage will file their own claim with their own property carrier, and their carrier will take care of the damages (the fence).  

Where this can get tricky or take a turn is if the tree was noticeably diseased and the owner did nothing about it; or even worse, the owner was notified to please address noticeable issues with the tree, and they never did.  However, if there were no visible signs of disease and the tree was somewhat maintained (in a typical/prudent manner), then you're going to have a really hard time pinning negligence on the tree owner or getting anywhere with that approach.  This is most likely going to be chalked up to an unfortunate act of God/nature and no one is negligent.  

As for filing claims, I completely agree with Cameron on this one.  You sure don't want to file a claim just because you have damage.  If you can manage a loss out of your own pocket, you always want to consider that route first.  Frequency of losses is the worst type of loss history you can have, and you never know what might occur later on down the road where you'll really need to file a claim.  Save your claim filing for the losses that are more catastrophic in nature, or for your more high-dollar losses.  Per your details above, this doesn't seem to be the case.  Sorry for the issues, but I hope you find this post useful.  Good luck!

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@Bo Bond@Cameron Moore ...

Thank you both for your replies. Everything makes sense and is certainly a tricky situation. So far what has happened is that I submitted a claim and the agent (who is awesome!) advised me to let Claim #1 (small portion of fence) remain as "information only" and we didn't submit it for any kind of reimbursement. I'll get a quote and have the town handle it. 

Now, for potential Claim #2 (larger part of the fence), I'm waiting for responses from the insurance company. I spoke with town's Tree Warden this morning (who was also awesome!) and he said although the Public Works guy told me to "send him the bill" for Claim #1, the Warden said that's not how they prefer to do things. They'd rather see it go through insurance and work that way. What's tough is that the guy who will do the fence work won't be able to get to it until April and didn't want to give me a quote now because of the current financial climate, noting that prices now will most likely not be the same prices in April. So I'm in a bit of a holding pattern. Thankfully, the fence is more cosmetic than anything (no pets on prem), so fixing it isn't at the top of the priority list at the moment (it will just be an eye sore until the spring).

Thanks again for the input! I'll update this post with what comes out of the whole ordeal.

Be well!

G