What to do when a tree falls on your property

After a tree falls on your property, your first step should be to ensure everyone in the house is safe. You may need to shut off your home's utilities, such as gas and electricity, if the tree damaged the lines running to your house. If your home isn't safe to stay in, you should move your family to a hotel or other shelter until it's repaired. You should file a homeowners insurance claim for the tree damage as soon as you can to get the claims process started.

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Steps to take right after a tee falls on your house

  1. Make sure everyone is safe

    Your priority after a tree falls on your house is to ensure everyone is OK, including your pets. Move everyone away from the damaged area of the home, as the structure may be compromised and covered in broken glass and other debris.

  2. Check for downed power lines

    If your lights are flickering or the power is out, the tree may have taken down a power line. When safe, go outside or look through a nearby window to see if there's a downed line in the tree. If you see or suspect a downed power line, shut off the power to your house at the electrical panel. Call 911 and your electricity provider. The authorities will block traffic on your street if necessary while the utility company works on the power line.

    If the tree is near your home's gas line, you should shut it off at the gas meter. If you can't safely access your gas meter, call the gas company so they can send someone out to switch it off.

  3. Make arrangements to stay somewhere else (if necessary)

    You should find a place to stay if your house is unsafe, especially if:

    • The tree hasn't completely fallen over
    • The roof is severely damaged
    • Major structural supports are damaged
    • Utility lines are damaged

    If you're not sure your house is safe to stay in, then you should err on the side of caution and stay elsewhere until a contractor can examine the damage. Your homeowners insurance may cover your lodging expenses under loss of use coverage.

Steps to take once it's safe to do so

  1. Cover up any holes or broken windows

    Call a contractor who can handle boarding up broken windows and holes, as well as a roofer, to install a tarp over the damaged roof section. These steps will prevent any further damage to your home from the elements.

  2. Document the damage and file an insurance claim

    Notify your insurance company or agent as soon as possible to start the claims process. Once it's safe to do so, take pictures and record video of the damage, inside and outside the house. You'll submit these with your insurance claim so your insurer can assess the extent of the damage and the cost of repairs. They may also send an adjuster to your property to assess the damage firsthand. You can also start getting quotes for repairs from local contractors while the claims process is ongoing.

    Learn more about the process of filing a homeowners insurance claim.

How much damage can a fallen tree do?

A fallen tree can severely damage a home, including collapsing the roof, taking out major support structures, rupturing gas lines, and other potential dangers. That's why it's important to have the structure of your home checked out by a professional after a tree falls on it.

Who is responsible for the tree's removal?

The property owner is usually responsible for removing a tree that fell on their property. If the tree damaged your home, your insurance may pay for cleanup and removal. Your homeowners insurance may also cover the cost of cleanup and removal if the tree didn't damage your home but fell as a result of certain limited covered perils and is blocking your driveway.

What if the tree was on my neighbor's property?

If a neighbor's tree falls on your yard or property, you're generally responsible for removing it if there's no damage to your home or other structures — even if the tree was dead or rotting. However, if the tree damaged your property, and your neighbor knew it was dead or dying, their insurance may pay for the tree's removal.

Does homeowners insurance cover tree damage?

Homeowners insurance may cover the cost to repair damage to your home from a fallen tree due to a covered peril. It may also pay for damage to other structures on your property, including a detached garage or fence. If a neighbor's tree falls on your yard due to negligence, then their insurance may pay for repairs to your property instead.

Pro tip:

If you have comprehensive coverage, your auto insurance may cover damage to your car from a fallen tree too.

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