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Thread: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

  1. #1
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    Default A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    So, speaking hypothetically.....

    Suppose there is a huge tree right next to your house... a giant oak, maybe 70 ft high, with many heavy branches. The tree has a trunk diameter of over 30 inches, and is 17 feet from your house. Unfortunately, insects have taken their toll, and over the past few years, the tree has clearly been dying.... this spring, all of the leaves were consumed by insects shortly after budding. At least a dozen lower branches are completely dead.

    So, in thinking about the possibility of the tree being struck by lightning, or being toppled by strong winds, the homeowner asks around, and gets two opinions:

    Person A says that the homeowner should call his insurance company, describe the situation, and ask if they will pay a 'preventative claim' to have the tree removed, which could easily cost $1000 or more. Person A says he's done this himself, and his insurance company gladly paid the $1000 claim, rather than risk a $30,000 claim for damages, should the tree fall on the house.

    Person B says this is a VERY bad idea. He says that the insurance company will refuse... and if the tree does fall and does damage to the house, the insurance company will then refuse to pay any claim, saying that it was a known pre-existing hazard that the homeowner didn't deal with, even though he knew it was a danger.

    Anyone have any experience with this?
    "The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for -- not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men of property to whom God has given control of the property rights of the country, and upon the successful management of which so much depends."
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Well I guess that I would go to the insurance company and ask them right up front instead of beating around the bush..

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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    B is correct in law. It is your responsibility to mitigate known hazards not your insurance company. It may be worth a shot knowing you will have to pay in the end if refused. Be sure to act if refused.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    So this theoretical tree belongs to the theoretical home owner and NOT theoretical his neighbor?


    I have a tree that chaffed my neighbors power line that crosses my property , when it chaffed it shorted out her house ruined a TV and any power transformers , phone , cell phone chargers , etc. The cost to replace the stuff was around more than her deductible which was $2000.00 IIRC. It turned out we both had the same insurance company so the company paid for her replacements to goods damaged.

    I asked if they'd pay to cut down the tree and they said "NO". I tried to get Puget Power to move her power line as today they can NOT cross over property lines just because it's easier to do , than pull form another pole. But Puget said no to that as well.

    As it turns out seeing it's my tree I'm the guy stuck trimming it to keep it off the power line.

    Not sure exactly how that relates to your theoretical situation. I'd guess the person B option would apply.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Interestingly enough, I've just gone through this legally. My neighbour refused to pay anything towards the damage caused by a large emerald ash that came down across my backyard taking out a fence panel and a picnic table not to mention the 50 feet of trunk and associated branches.

    My neighbor is not legally liable because there is always the defense of "I didn't know it was dead and a danger" and in this case, his dead tree hiding among the living ones in the woods in the backyard, neither did I. However, he has another emerald ash of the same size and I have been advised to send him a registered letter informing him of his liability. I'm still considering this and thinking about having my lawyer send the letter and registering the document.

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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Quote Originally Posted by Milo Christensen View Post
    However, he has another emerald ash of the same size and I have been advised to send him a registered letter informing him of his liability. I'm still considering this and thinking about having my lawyer send the letter and registering the document.
    That's the way to win over the hearts of your friends and neighbors...
    Sic a lawyer on them.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    It would not hurt to call the insurance company and ask, with the caveat that the homeowner is prepared to remove the tree in the event that insurance company declines.

    If there are utility wires that could be damaged by dropping limbs, or it is adjacent to a public highway, either of those entities likely would be willing to remove the tree at their cost.

    giant oak, maybe 70 ft high, with many heavy branches
    Any good knees?
    Steve Martinsen

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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Girouard View Post
    So this theoretical tree belongs to the theoretical home owner and NOT theoretical his neighbor?


    I have a tree that chaffed my neighbors power line that crosses my property , when it chaffed it shorted out her house ruined a TV and any power transformers , phone , cell phone chargers , etc. The cost to replace the stuff was around more than her deductible which was $2000.00 IIRC. It turned out we both had the same insurance company so the company paid for her replacements to goods damaged.

    I asked if they'd pay to cut down the tree and they said "NO". I tried to get Puget Power to move her power line as today they can NOT cross over property lines just because it's easier to do , than pull form another pole. But Puget said no to that as well.

    As it turns out seeing it's my tree I'm the guy stuck trimming it to keep it off the power line.

    Not sure exactly how that relates to your theoretical situation. I'd guess the person B option would apply.
    Could you not suggest to your mutual insurance company to stick Puget Power with the bill, because they routed the line incorrectly. Do you have Way Leave Rights in your area?
    It really is quite difficult to build an ugly wooden boat.

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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    So, speaking hypothetically..... Does one wonder why a man so cocksure about some of the most complex subjects in politics, law, and religion suddenly has zero common sense to a legal question easily tackled by a 10th grade civics class? Could it be persona building in the propaganda sense? One of the rules of PR and propaganda is to make the reader feel like your on their level and just as confused as they are. Repeatability is a good indicator of such tactics. We have had enough experience to look at that critically haven't we?

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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    My in-law's neighbour's tree blew over to about 30 degrees from vertical,so that it hung over my in-law's house.
    Mike,our insurance guy said,"No way they'll pay.It would be like trying to get them to fix your brakes which are on the verge of failing."
    Act like a "prudent un-insured".
    R
    "Now Ron,don't you do anything stupid!" - Grandma B.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    I would contact the insurance company and if it won't pay and you think the tree is dangerous, take the tree down. If it's so dangerous that it needs to come out to avoid damaging property or person, then it needs to come out, no matter who pays for it.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Why don't you ask a Priest?

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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Quote Originally Posted by Donn View Post
    Why don't you ask a Priest?
    norms person a person b is the same m o as the bother several catholic priests whose time he could care less about just so he can score a minor debating point with an ?equally? deranged poster on a unpopular portion of an obscure internet forum devoted to wooden boats

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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Quote Originally Posted by Milo Christensen View Post
    Interestingly enough, I've just gone through this legally. My neighbour refused to pay anything towards the damage caused by a large emerald ash that came down across my backyard taking out a fence panel and a picnic table not to mention the 50 feet of trunk and associated branches.

    My neighbor is not legally liable because there is always the defense of "I didn't know it was dead and a danger" and in this case, his dead tree hiding among the living ones in the woods in the backyard, neither did I. However, he has another emerald ash of the same size and I have been advised to send him a registered letter informing him of his liability. I'm still considering this and thinking about having my lawyer send the letter and registering the document.
    MC is exactly right on this issue. Your neighbor is not liable for a tree falling on your property, any damage it causes and they're not even obligated to remove the fallen tree---unless they were aware that it was a hazard--so send them the registered letter. This is an area I have some experience with.

    regards,
    Waddie

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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Healthy trees sometimes get blown over by high winds. The defense (if one of yours falls and damages others property) in that case would be "act of God?" The neighbor's insurance pays?
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Quote Originally Posted by Milo Christensen View Post
    norms person a person b is the same m o as the bother several catholic priests whose time he could care less about just so he can score a minor debating point with an ?equally? deranged poster on a unpopular portion of an obscure internet forum devoted to wooden boats
    I feel sorry for you.... you can't avoid taking every imaginable opportunity to take a shot at me... even when I make an utterly non-political post. I feel sorry for you, Milo.... thaty anger really IS going to eat you up inside.
    "The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for -- not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men of property to whom God has given control of the property rights of the country, and upon the successful management of which so much depends."
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Quote Originally Posted by Donn View Post
    Why don't you ask a Priest?

    I would no more ask a priest for legal advice than a lawyer for religious advice
    Last edited by Bobcat; 06-11-2011 at 01:00 PM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobcat View Post
    I would no more ask a priest for legal advise than a lawyer for religious advice
    Bobcat, forget it... it was just Donn, taking a gratuitous shot, like a 12 year old, at me, for another thread I started. Best to just ignore him, like I have.
    "The rights and interests of the laboring man will be protected and cared for -- not by the labor agitators, but by the Christian men of property to whom God has given control of the property rights of the country, and upon the successful management of which so much depends."
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Quote Originally Posted by MiddleAgesMan View Post
    Healthy trees sometimes get blown over by high winds. The defense (if one of yours falls and damages others property) in that case would be "act of God?" The neighbor's insurance pays?
    You're only legally at fault if you knew or should have known that the tree was likely to fall and did nothing. So in the case of a healthy tree, yes the neighbor's insurance would pay for the damage

  20. #20
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    this spring, all of the leaves were consumed by insects shortly after budding
    Not to derail the thread, but does anyone know what is causing this? I drove through a nearby town the other day and it looked like early spring - oaks just budding - but that was not the case. The leaves were thoroughly perforated.
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  21. #21

    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    There are some truths here, and some non truths.

    If it's your tree, you're responsible for it, trimming, removal etc.

    If your neighbour sends you a letter, or has a conversation with you in front of (his) witness about the condition of your tree, and says he has reason to believe it will fall, you better get it checked out. Liability is a lot about due diligence. If you have a tenant who tells you about a slippery walk, and you do nothing, and they fall, you're in trouble. If you put salt and sand on it, and they fall, you have less trouble.

    Anyone with a suspect tree on or off their property should either fix it, or inform the owner that they are concerned. It covers your ass.

    I have done a fair bit of tree trimming on rental properties I owned that overhung other people houses, and for good reason. Bottom line is this: If you demonstrate negligence or failure to act in a situation like this, you may get sued, your insurance company may give you severe grief, or at the least, raise your rates through the roof, or drop you altogether.

    Last but not least: DO NOT trim this tree yourself. Get a reputable insured arborist to do it.

  22. #22

    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Quote Originally Posted by Tylerdurden View Post
    So, speaking hypothetically..... Does one wonder why a man so cocksure about some of the most complex subjects in politics, law, and religion suddenly has zero common sense to a legal question easily tackled by a 10th grade civics class? Could it be persona building in the propaganda sense? One of the rules of PR and propaganda is to make the reader feel like your on their level and just as confused as they are. Repeatability is a good indicator of such tactics. We have had enough experience to look at that critically haven't we?

    Certainly you would not have experience with liability, since you likely have no insurance on anything anyway, and if you did, that would be contrary to all the crap you post here. Besides, nobody could sue you anyway... can't get blood from a stone.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Malcolm Jardine View Post
    I have done a fair bit of tree trimming on rental properties I owned that overhung other people houses..
    Curious. Were you renting to Robins?

  24. #24

    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Well, you caught me fair and square... that was an awful sentence.

    I have done a fair bit of tree trimming on trees that were located on rental properties that I owned. The trees in question had significant branches overhanging other people's properties.

  25. #25
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Norm,

    Before you contemplate insurance issues, consult a good arborist. From what you say, the tree may need to be taken down.

    A person good with trees will know both the legal aspects and the tree aspects.
    So many questions, so little time.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Bernstein View Post
    I feel sorry for you.... you can't avoid taking every imaginable opportunity to take a shot at me... even when I make an utterly non-political post. I feel sorry for you, Milo.... thaty anger really IS going to eat you up inside.
    Anger? At you? Not! Not for a second! Please also note I've given you the very best legal advice FOR FREEEE that you're going to get on this issue.

    The other was just a bit of playful posting because a bunch of us have found the whole a non practicing jew uses two catholic priests to win an internet argument with a catholic thing hysterically funny.

    We can't help tweaking you about it. Its kinda like some of the innocent little mistakes some of our conservative pollys have made, like I can see Russia. Stupid on that order and funny everytime you hear it.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Most of the existing older trees on our 2.5 acres are "hazardous" but the one that fell on the house was sound (a neighbour's tree actually) except for the roots. One twice the size, the same neighbour, has fallen slowly in the other corner. Roots again, after years of dryness a wet summer and now winter they are just pulling out from the weight of new foliage. Hopefully not when we're under them.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    We're having a dry spring here in the southeast. My old oaks were showing signs of slime flux disease so now I'm watering them a couple times a week. Not the lawn, just the trees.

    Oh, yes, they are just inside the property line (on my side) so I have to take action to avoid liability should they fall on the neighbor's house.
    Goat Island Skiff and Simmons Sea Skiff construction photos here:

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  29. #29
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    I think I answered my own question:

    http://www.umassgreeninfo.org/fact_s...verview_09.pdf
    "Wherever there is a channel for water, there is a road for the canoe. " - Thoreau

  30. #30

    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    I'd recommend climbing the tree in question, finding what appears to be a sturdy branch, and jumping up and down on it until you can determine whether or not the tree is actually a liability. If it breaks, you know it's weak, but you get a thrilling ride down on a frickin tree! How many guys get to say they've done that? If it doesn't break, don't worry about it falling. The bonus is that you've found a new place where you can go and survey your territory from, and it also serves as a platform from which you can throw things at strangers who encroach on your turf.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Just cut the tree down. If the ins co does pay, they'll bite you for it on the next premium renewal. They wont say that, probably, but it'll be a claim in your folder and at the end of the day you'll be considered a higher risk, despite actually being pro-actively cautious.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    Just cut the tree down. If the ins co does pay, they'll bite you for it on the next premium renewal. They wont say that, probably, but it'll be a claim in your folder and at the end of the day you'll be considered a higher risk, despite actually being pro-actively cautious.

    Kevin
    Funny you should mention this...
    Last week I paid six hundred bucks to have a large locust tree removed, cut up and hauled away. The tree was damaging my garage roof, which will also cost a few muskrat skins to repair. I didn't bother to file an insurance claim since I know that the company would simply boost me up to a higher rate to cover their cost, and that the higher rate would be forever.
    Here in tornado alley I'd rather reserve the insurance as protection against catastrophic expenses.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: A homeowner's insurance question regarding a hazardous tree

    No free lunch but everyone keeps looking.

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