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If a tree falls on a house and no one is around, can you hear it?

By April 11, 2023Personal Insurance

I’m sure we have all heard the saying “If a tree falls in the forest & no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”  Well, I have to leave that answer up to the experts.  But what I am able to answer about that question…… the insurance ramifications. 


Many people are confused when trying to figure out who is responsible if a tree falls down & damages their property.  When it comes to insurance, the answer is pretty simple.  If the tree fell due to a weather-related event, the person whose property is damaged will have to go through their insurance to make the repairs. 


But what if that tree fell from your neighbor’s yard & hit your home or other property?  The answer is the same.  If the neighbor’s tree fell due to a weather-related event onto your property, it would be your insurance that would respond to the claim.   People usually wonder why that is.  Because your neighbor did not cause the damage.  Weather caused the damage.  So, your neighbor is not liable for damage that a tree does, when it falls down due to weather-related incidents. 


There are some VERY RARE scenarios where a neighbor may be held responsible for damage, if their tree fell down and damaged your property.  But you would have to prove that the tree in question was dead or otherwise a hazard.  You would then have to have notified the neighbor in writing, that you are requesting he/she does something about the tree.  You might even need to get an independent 3rd party, like an arborist or tree expert, to confirm the tree in question is dead & is likely to cause damage.  All this would need to be done prior to the tree falling down.  This scenario is highly unlikely.


What if the tree comes down due to a storm, but there is no damage to your property?  You would need to read your insurance policy to see how that is covered.  Depending on your company, here some of the ways that claim would be handled:

  • No coverage at all –  Not every policy will cover the expense to remove trees that fall and cause no damage.
  • Limited coverage if the tree is impeding a roadway or thruway – Some policies may offer a limited amount of coverage, but the tree has to be blocking a roadway for the coverage to be triggered.
  • Limited coverage – Some policies will offer coverage for the tree debris removal, even if there is no property damage.  Usually this coverage comes with a “per tree” maximum limit as well as a total maximum they would pay for any one event.


While it may not be something on the top of your mind, it’s always a good idea to confirm the coverage your policy offers and know what you are paying for !!