Storm Damage Liability: If A Tree Falls On Your Property Who Pays?

(Photo courtesy Chandis Brasington Digby)

When storms topple so many trees and branches, as they did Friday night, we get calls from you wondering who pays for the damage when it’s not your tree. We spoke with a couple that has been dealing with that insurance issue, and got expert advice on who is stuck with the insurance costs.

Car owners Dave and Jessica Puder were dining out in Greenville, when their car was hit by a city tree during a major storm Friday evening.

“The damage looks worse now with the tree gone,” said Dave Puder Saturday morning.

We asked insurance expert Jon Jensen with Correll Insurance Group who is reponsible when a city tree, or even a neighbors tree falls on your property?

“Most times whether it’s a public property or private property, if a tree falls that has not had any prior history to damage or disease or anything of that sort, the entity that owns the tree so to speak, or the person that owns the tree may not be responsible for that damage,” said Jensen.

In fact, he said, the only way the city or even your neighbor would be liable is if they had prior knowledge that something was wrong with their tree.
So, you would be wise to scope out the trees that could fall onto your property and send written notice if you see one is dying.

The Puders, are just learning today they will likely have to rely on their own insurance.

“We weren’t hurt, so that’s the most important thing,” said Jessica Puder.

They picked an unlucky parking spot but since they were not in the car when the tree fell, they feel luck was still on their side.

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