If a tree falls, who pays to clean it up?

WRAL Five on Your Side's Monica Laliberte explains who's responsible for the bill when a tree falls during a storm.

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Monica Laliberte
, consumer editor
RALEIGH, N.C. — Hurricanes, tornadoes and ordinary thunderstorms can all tear up trees. But no matter why a tree falls, there's almost always a question about who's responsible for cleanup.

When a neighbor's tree falls on your home or yard, are they responsible or are you?

Here's a break down of insurance and tree damage.

The tree fell across the street and took down the power lines and a power pole. People in the area were without power. Photo from WRAL Viewer Daniel Vincent.

Regular homeowner's insurance covers damage to your home from fallen trees. Insurance also typically pays up to $500 for tree removal, but only in certain circumstances:

  • When a tree hits a house
  • When a tree hits a garage
  • When a tree blocks a driveway
  • When a tree blocks a wheelchair ramp

When trees fall in your yard, you have to foot the bill to remove them.

What if a neighbor's tree falls into your yard?

Things get a little more complicated if a tree from your neighbor's property falls onto yours.

If a healthy tree falls during a storm, whoever has the damage or tree in their yard pays for it. That means that if your neighbor's tree falls on your house, you and your insurance company pay for the damage. If your tree falls on your neighbor's property, the neighbor pays for the damage.

However, if that tree was clearly dead or dying, the owner of the tree is responsible for the damage.

Pay attention to trees in your yard and on your neighbors' property. If one in your yard threatens a neighbor's property, take the tree down.

If a neighbor's tree threatens your home, let them know. If they don't respond, send a certified letter to them, and take pictures of the tree. Then, if it falls and does damage, you have proof that your neighbor knew about it.

Vehicles hit by trees and falling debris are covered by auto insurance with comprehensive coverage.

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Monica Laliberte, Reporter
Anne Johnson, Web Editor
Heather Leah, Web Editor

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