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What to Expect When a Tree Falls

Helpful Advice From Haymaker Tree Service and Paul Welsted American Family Insurance Company

Article by Brian Bailey

Photography by Terry Fravel and Supplied

Originally published in Canton Lifestyle

With high winds from storms and heavy ice and snow, trees and tree branches can cause significant damage to your home. Ultimately, knowing how to react and what to do when a tree falls on your home will help you minimize stress and get your property and life back to normal as quickly as possible.

Trees fall all the time. However, when one lands on a house, immediate action must be taken to prevent further damage. Get your loved ones to safety, call 9-1-1, follow their instructions, then contact your insurance carrier, an emergency tree removal company, a roofing company that can inspect the home’s structure for hidden damages and a plumber to ensure that the jolt hasn’t caused any pipe ruptures or hidden leaks.

If the tree was uprooted during a storm, be aware that trees within close proximity may also be in danger of falling. Trees growing close together will often rely on each other’s roots to help anchor themselves.

We asked Paul Welsted, an American Family Insurance agency in Jackson Township, if insurance covers the cost of fallen trees.

“If a storm, ice, or hail takes a tree down, the removal will be covered if the tree causes damage to a structure on your property,” explains Paul. “However, if the tree falls on your lawn without causing damage to any structure, your homeowner's insurance most likely won’t cover it.”

Paul suggests you check your policy to make sure it lists “other structures” for coverage, such as a fence, shed or detached garage. Most policies will provide coverage for a peril such as a fallen tree. “With the high cost of inflation, people should not miss the chance for an annual review to make sure their coverage has been adequately increased,” reminds Paul.

If a tree falls on your roof, call a roofer and tree service professional immediately. “Have them tarp the roof and keep the damage to your home from getting worse,” says Paul. He suggests your take pictures as soon as you can and keep receipts of anything you purchase to make repairs.

We asked Paul what surprises people the most? “People are usually surprised to find out that your neighbor's fallen tree is your problem!” Paul says.

If a tree on your property falls on a neighbor’s property and damages their home, your neighbor can file a claim through their own homeowner's insurance. On the other hand, if your neighbor’s tree falls on your property, you would need to file a claim through your own insurance.

If a tree fell but didn’t damage any structures, you’ll most likely have to pay for tree removal yourself. Most homeowners insurance policies won’t cover the cost of removing debris if there was no structural damage. And trees and branches that fall on your car are not typically covered by your homeowner's insurance. Instead, you’ll have to file a car insurance claim under your comprehensive car insurance coverage.

Paul’s biggest advice to homeowners? “Take precautions! Branches that overhang bedrooms can cause tremendous damage in the straight-line windstorms we get in this area,” Paul says.

Haymaker Tree & Lawn in North Canton echoes Paul’s recommendation for regular tree maintenance. Owner Mark Haymaker and his expert crew perform tree trimming and pruning, removing dead and damaged limbs that will thin the canopy allowing wind to better flow through a tree. This can help to minimize the risk of falling material.

“When performing estimates and doing regular maintenance, our crew can spot rotting wood, cracks, cavities and diseases that can be causes for failure to the integrity of the tree,” says Mark. “Most of the trees that fall have not been properly cared for.”

Some of the tree diseases our local area has seen over the last couple of years has been with Blue Spruce and Ash species. Early detection can give homeowners the best opportunity to prevent or control the disease.

Haymaker Tree & Lawn Office Manager, Smith Doubet, points out that “Our tree service estimates are free and our experts are happy to visit your property to make a recommendation.”

We asked if the Haymaker Tree & Lawn crews worked during the winter months. Smith shares “Contrary to what people think, winter is a good time for tree service because the ground is frozen and damage to any landscaping on the property can be minimized. They can spot damage year-round. Don’t wait for spring to think about getting work done.”

The winter season is the time of year Haymaker Tree & Lawn responds to emergency storm calls due to heavy ice and wind. Later in the spring, after the snow comes rain and thaw, and heavily saturated ground can cause trees to fall. They have several crews ready to handle trees that are blocking driveways, roads, and preventing egress and ingress; trees on houses with structural damage or leaking; and trees laying on wires or other utilities.

“If a tree falls on power lines, call 911 first,” says Mark. Haymaker Tree & Lawn prioritizes emergency service and is quick to respond to tree work that police, fire, or road departments need assistance with.

For more information or expert consultation, contact Paul Welsted American Family Insurance at (330)833-2939. You can also contact Haymaker Tree & Lawn at (330)499-5037 to schedule a free estimate or visit HaymakerTreeandLawn.com.

People are usually surprised to find out that your neighbor's fallen tree is your problem. - Paul Welsted

  • Mark Haymaker
  • Smith Doubet
  • Paul Welsted