How to make sure you’re properly covered for windstorms and how to minimize damages.
Wind storms can be nasty. Nastier still is the ambiguity surrounding who’s responsible for what when damages happen. Hopefully, this quick blog post can help you guys make sense of the grey areas.
- A tree in your yard falls on your house – your homeowners policy will cover any damages sustained to your home, garage, shed, or any additional buildings on your property (after you pay your deductible). As is the case with any claim, you want to make sure the value of the damage caused is greater than your deductible, and that the value justifies potentially losing any claims free discount you are receiving on your policy.
- Your tree falls on your neighbor’s house or vice versa – your policy would cover damages to your house, and your neighbor’s policy would cover damages to their house. Simple as that. Since brokers are not lawyers, we are not able to establish liability, however, in certain instances where the health of the tree comes into question (was it rotten, old, and/or weak?), you may be able to argue negligence on the part of your neighbor and have their personal liability insurance cover the damages to your home.Let’s say your tree falls on your neighbor’s house and causes minor damages. Although the damages are minor and do not warrant your neighbor opening up a claim, they are severe enough that they will set them back financially. You feel bad that they’re in this tough spot, but what can you do? Many homeowners’ policies have what’s called “voluntary property damage” coverage. Some companies will allow this to be used to pay for the damages caused to your neighbor’s home without counting as a claim on your homeowner’s policy. Unfortunately, other companies may choose to count the voluntary property damage use as a claim, and the limit of this coverage varies, so be sure to check your policy documents or check with your insurance provider before extending an offer to your neighbor.
- A tree or other debris falls on your car – in situations such as this, your comprehensive coverage on your auto policy would cover damages (after you pay the deductible). Unfortunately, many people choose to forego comprehensive coverage on their policies if it is not mandatory (as with financed vehicles) in order to save on annual premium. Be sure to look over your policy to make sure that you’ve opted-in to comprehensive coverage.
To avoid finding yourself in one of the above situations, it’s important to stay on top of property maintenance. A few things you can do ahead of a windstorm to mitigate damages include: trimming your trees and shrubs; keeping an eye out for dead trees on your property; regularly checking your roof for loose or missing shingles; securing outdoor furniture or other loose items; and avoid parking directly under trees.