What to Expect When Tropical Storms Cause Homes to Undergo Tree Damage

J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo
Founder of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A.

Most Florida homeowners recognize that tropical storms can damage their dream home, but they usually focus their concern on the risk of harm from high winds and rain.  A related danger that constitutes one of the most common forms of damage to a residence involves toppled trees and falling limbs.  Many homes suffer devastating property damage because high winds, lightning strikes, and ground saturation cause damage to trees which may in turn damage a home.  There are a number of issues that policyholders should know about regarding tree damage coverage under their homeowner’s policy.

Whether gusty winds or a tree root system weakened by heavy rains cause damage to landscaping on your property or indirect damage to your home from falling limbs, a variety of forms of loss might be covered.  Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover expenses related to tree removal, damage from falling branches and tipped over trees, and/or the loss of the tree.  Although most standard homeowner’s insurance policies cover tree damage, these policies often include modest caps on payments for tree damage.

Florida property owners should understand the scope and limits of their homeowner’s protection with regard to tree damage.  If the policyholder’s home is damaged because wind blows a tree over or a limb falls on an insured’s roof, the damage to the roof or other parts of the physical structure of the home generally should be covered by the policy.  In some cases, falling branches or toppled trees fall on a neighbor’s roof or garage.  Typically, your homeowner’s insurance will not cover this cost.  However, the neighbor’s insurer might pay the claim.

When the issue is covering the cost of bush or tree removal, the situation is slightly more complicated.  Although most homeowner’s policies offer coverage for tree and bush removal following a storm, the coverage might be subject to narrow conditions or strict policy limits.  If you wish additional coverage, you might be able to purchase a rider that provides supplemental coverage related to trees affected by a harsh tropical storm.

Along with the monetary caps on coverage for damage to trees, including the expense of having trees removed, policies might limit coverage for tree damage to specific causes.  Policy language capping the amount for each tree or shrub damaged might be further limited as in the example below.

“Trees, Plants, Shrubs, or Lawns

We pay for direct physical loss to trees, plants, shrubs, or lawns on the insured’s premises caused by:

  1.  Fire or lightning, explosion, not civil commotion, aircraft;
  2. vehicles if not owned or operated by an occupant of the insured’s premises or;
  3. vandalism or theft.

You may apply up to 5% of the policy limit to cover the loss of plants, bushes, and lawns.  The maximum compensation is $500 for each bush, tree, or plant, which includes removal costs.”

If you have old growth or large trees and extensive landscaping around your home, you might benefit from the financial investment in a rider for broader coverage.

Our Miami property damage claims law firm invites you to contact us if you are having difficulties with your insurance company.  Miami insurance claims lawyer J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo handles property damage claims against insurance companies in Miami and throughout Florida. The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations.  No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees.  Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.

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