Who is Responsible for a Fallen Tree on a Homeowner’s Insurance Policy?

Something that has been asked recently as Spring starts to really kick in and bring back the color and life to our trees and flowers is, what happens if a tree falls on my house? Better yet, what happens if my neighbors tree falls on my house? Whether you live in Hagerstown, Chambersburg, Martinsburg, or another neighboring city, it’s crucial to understand who bears responsibility when a tree falls and what you need to do post “timber”.

Neighbor’s Tree Falls on Your Property

One of the most common questions we receive is: “What happens if my neighbor’s tree falls on my house?” The answer largely depends on the cause of the fall. Generally, homeowner’s insurance covers damage caused by “acts of God” such as storms or high winds, regardless of where the tree originated. However, if the tree fell due to neglect (e.g., it was dead or diseased), your neighbor could be held liable. No matter what, your own homeowners insurance is typically going to be the first to respond with coverage. “Blame” on the cause of the tree (referenced below) will get worked out by the insurance company after the fact.

  1. Natural Causes: If a storm knocks over a healthy tree from your neighbor’s yard onto your home, your homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers the damage. You would file a claim with your insurance company, and they would handle the repairs, minus your applicable deductible.
  2. Negligence: If the tree was dead or diseased and your neighbor ignored the issue despite being aware, their homeowner’s insurance might be responsible. You would need to prove negligence, which can be challenging. In most cases, you need to file with your own company, and then let them go after the other party.

Steps to Take if You Spot a Dead Tree

We are not trying to set anyone up to be the arborist police in the neighborhood, but it is important to keep an eye our for exposures that may put your home at risk. Like the TSA tells you in airports, if you see something, say something. Keep an eye on trees that are loosing their appeal. They may start to not bloom, turn brown, loose leaves, shedding limbs, etc. Below are a few things you should do once you start to take notice of a tree putting your home in danger. Our focus is to help you point out risks that pose a threat to your home, not just eyesores that are not endangering anything.

  1. Notify Your Neighbor: Politely inform your neighbor about the potential hazard. They might be unaware of the issue.
  2. Document the Condition: Take pictures of the tree and keep records of any communications with your neighbor about the problem. If you have your insurance with us, you can send the pictures to us so we can add to your file.
  3. Send a Certified Letter: If your neighbor does not address the issue, send a certified letter outlining your concerns and the potential risks. This letter can serve as evidence if you need to prove negligence later.
  4. Contact Local Authorities: In some cases, local ordinances might require property owners to remove hazardous trees. Contact your local government to report the issue if your neighbor remains unresponsive. If you live in a neighborhood with a HOA, this may be the time to get them involved.

The Process Once a Tree Falls

When a tree falls, follow these steps to ensure a smooth claims process. Remember, insurance is there to have your back and provide coverage. We are not emergency services that will come in immediately after the claim to make repairs. That is where having connections to a good arborist, restoration company, and general contractor can be a life saver in these situations.

  1. Ensure Safety: The first priority is safety. Evacuate the area if the tree has caused significant damage and poses a risk. If there are electrical wires or gas lines damaged, contact your utility providers immediately.
  2. Document the Damage: Take photos and videos of the fallen tree and the damage it caused. This documentation is crucial for your insurance claim. We don’t need cinema level images or videos. A good walk around video helps set the stage as to what happened and what needs fixed. Document over time too. After the tree gets removed, you will want to take more pictures.
  3. Prevent Further Damage: Take reasonable steps to prevent additional damage to your property. For instance, cover broken windows or damaged roofs with tarps. Your insurance policy requires you to mitigate further damage. A good restoration company can assist with this.
  4. Get Repair Estimates: Obtain estimates from licensed contractors for the necessary repairs. Your insurance company might have preferred contractors, but you have the right to choose who does the work. The earlier you get someone involved, the faster the claim will get resolved.
  5. Contact Your Insurance Company: Report the incident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with all the documentation and details of the event.
  6. Meet with the Adjuster: Your insurance company will send an adjuster to assess the damage. Be present during the inspection and provide any additional information they may need.

Responsibility of the Insured

As a homeowner, you have certain responsibilities to ensure that your property is maintained and that you take necessary precautions to prevent damage. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Regular Inspections: Regularly inspect your property for any signs of tree disease or decay. Address issues promptly to prevent potential hazards. This is where you can build a good relationship with a arborist, or tree company, to help maintain the property and help you out should something fall.
  2. Tree Maintenance: Trim and prune trees to maintain their health and prevent overgrowth that could lead to falling branches or trees.
  3. Address Neighborly Concerns: If a neighbor informs you of a potentially dangerous tree on your property, take their concerns seriously and address the issue promptly.


Understanding the responsibilities and processes associated with fallen trees is crucial for homeowners in Hagerstown, Chambersburg, and Martinsburg. By following these guidelines, you can be better prepared for the unexpected and protect your home from potential damage. Remember, regular maintenance and open communication with neighbors are key to preventing tree-related issues. Stay safe and proactive!

Here at Younger Insurance, our commitment goes beyond the policies; we’re emotionally invested in your insurance journey. Insurance is not a buy it and forget it service. Your experience should include feeling understood, cared for, and comfortable with the coverage and policies you have. If you want to learn more about what it is like to work with us, or have questions about how to handle a fallen tree situation, then fill out the form below or give us a call at 240-527-2344.

Please complete the form below for a quote.

Request Your Proposal Here

Are you ready to save time, aggravation, and money? The team at Younger Insurance Agency is here and ready to make the process as painless as possible. We look forward to meeting you!

Call Email Claims Payments