What Are Cities Responsible For?

When things go wrong inside your house, you know the burden’s on you (or your homeowners insurance) to get things fixed.

Things can get a little confusing when something is kind of yours and kind of your city’s responsibility. Who pays then?

While there’s usually no clear-cut answer, the following information can give you some clarity around the issue.

Trees

Trees cause more than $1 billion of property damage in the United States every year. Who pays for that damage can be tricky. And that’s true whether your neighbor’s tree falls in your yard or a tree straddles the line between your property and your city’s property.

If a tree is located between your street and your sidewalk, it is typically owned by the city. So it would probably be your city’s responsibility to remove it if it fell or became damaged. Many cities have an arborist on staff who can let you know for sure.

Trees that fall elsewhere on your property are likely your responsibility. Your homeowners insurance often covers the cost of tree removal, so make sure to check in with your insurance agent to see what your policy covers.

Sidewalks

In years past, cities would typically pick up the tab for any sidewalk repairs. Today, nearly every major American city places at least some—or all—of the responsibility on the homeowner. Your city may have a limited amount of funds to repair sidewalks or a shared cost program in place. No matter what your city offers, it’s a good idea to get a damaged sidewalk repaired ASAP—falls are a major source of homeowners liability claims.

Car damage after hitting a pothole

Many—but not all—cities let you file a pothole claim if your car sustains damage from a pothole on a city roadway. The process varies by city, so check with your city’s roads department to see if they accept claims. Keep in mind there’s no guarantee your claim will be accepted and that payments for damages can have a cap. Get tips for how to file a pothole claim with your city.

Snowplow damage

Snowplows (and other city vehicles) perform essential services for communities.

Unfortunately, city workers who operate these vehicles can cause damage as they perform their duties. Some of the most common incidents include running into a fence or mailbox while snow plowing. If this happens to you, the city’s insurance company will most likely cover the damage. Just make sure to promptly report the incident—some cities only let you report a claim a specified number of days after an incident took place.

These kinds of situations highlight the importance of having the right homeowners insurance and auto insurance. Talk to an insurance professional like an Erie Insurance agent to learn more about the right coverage and to get a free quote.


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