How to Respond When a Tree Falls on the House
When a tree suddenly falls on the house in a storm, it’s a shock! One minute there was an intact house and seemingly seconds later, trunks and branches are on or even in it. Get everyone out fast, of course. Then follow the instructions below.
Call the police and/or fire department. They will check that no live wires are around and make sure that no fire is imminent. They will cut off electricity to the house when needed.
Decide if there is imminent danger to the house, property or neighbors’ property, as soon as everyone is safe. Take whatever action is needed with the assistance of police and fire personnel.
Call a tree service to schedule removal of the tree as soon as possible. Leave a message on their voicemail requesting them to call back as soon as possible. The staff monitors messages so you should get a return call in a reasonable time. When it’s necessary to get a crane to remove it, the tree service will make the contact. Often a storm causes multiple trees in a neighborhood to fall so crane operators are on the scene.
Call the insurance company. Follow the prompts on the voicemail to file a claim. Expect a return call within hours. Have your policy and number available. An adjuster will contact you to make an appointment.
Take photos as soon as possible after the damage from every angle. Get close-ups and long shots. Take photos of the outside and any damage inside the house. Print them out as soon as feasible. Have them ready to show the insurance adjuster.
Help children and pets to be calm once it’s safe to stay in the house. Try to follow a normal routine. When it’s not safe, gather clothing and belongings to move temporarily to a designated location.
Use caution anywhere near the tree until it is removed. Stay out of the way of the workers who remove the tree. A heavy branch can weigh thousands of pounds.
Maintain clear communication with the insurance adjuster. Know the details of your coverage.
- If the electricity is out, be sure to turn off computers, lights and equipment so they won’t come on suddenly when it’s restored.
- When a storm hits a neighborhood, tree services will be in great demand. If you have an ongoing relationship with a tree service, you may get a quicker response.
- You will be required to get 3 bids from roofers, painters and other companies. Have someone with you when you meet the representative from the companies so you’ll have another opinion of their reliability and approach.
- Insurance regulations may vary from state to state.
- If the tree is near the street, your municipality may be responsible for costs to remove it. Check first before you assume responsibility yourself.
- In addition to calling the 800 number for the insurance company, also call your own agent who can be very helpful when you establish a claim.
- You may be approached by a public adjuster offering to negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf (for a fee). Ask for references before you decide whether to sign a contract.
- Make sure other trees are properly pruned so there is less chance they might fall in a storm.
- Homeowner’s insurance covers tree damage when it falls on a house, not in the garden. Tree removal from a garden or yard is the responsibility of the homeowners. Damage to plants isn’t usually covered either.