If a tree falls after a storm and hits your office building, is the damage covered by your business insurance? The answer? Well, it depends (on your policy).
Here are three things to know about business insurance and toppled trees.
1. Coverage details
You’re covered for the removal of the fallen trees and related damages if your policy specifically covers and lists your building and other property, such as fences, freestanding signs and outbuildings. This includes trees felled by a windstorm, lightning, hail or from the weight of ice, snow or sleet; but it doesn’t cover diseased or dead trees.
What if the tree lands on your work vehicle? If comprehensive coverage is purchased for your business vehicles, damage from fallen trees would be covered.
2. Where the tree falls is key
Where a tree falls is generally more important to an insurance company than its owner. So if the neighbor’s tree lands on your business property, you would file a claim with your insurance company. Similarly, if a tree on your business property falls in your neighbor’s yard, your neighbor should file a claim with his or her insurance carrier.
If your neighbor’s tree was in poor health or not properly maintained, then your insurance company may try to collect from the neighbor’s insurer through a process called subrogation. In some cases, you may be reimbursed for the deductible.
3. The claims process (and how to get started)
If a tree falls on your business property, take photos of the damage and contact your insurance company. Before you have the tree removed, get in touch with your insurance agent or claims adjuster, who will evaluate the damage and explain your coverage.
What about homes and cars?
You might also be wondering about damage to your home or a personal vehicle. If a tree damages your home, you may have coverage through your homeowners policy (read the related story). If it smashes your car, you may have coverage on your auto policy for the damage if you have purchased the optional comprehensive coverage.
Bypass the risks with tree trimming
It’s also a good idea to keep a watchful eye on the health of the trees on your property. Most routine pruning can take place any time during the year with little effect on the tree. An arborist can help you manage tree hazards and risks. If you need to find an arborist in your area, the International Society of Arboriculture has an online directory.
Get in touch with a local ERIE agent for more information about tree damage and insurance coverage.