The last several days of freezing rain, sleet, snow and ice in Dallas has sparked a few questions about insurance and coverage from my neighbors and friends in the Park Cities and Preston Hollow. I’ve seen Facebook postings, with photos of trees on houses, cars, power lines, and just some very large beautiful trees that are seriously damaged. Many of the postings have been people asking “Who is responsible?”. Let me give a brief explanation and hopefully some guidance for that difficult conversation between neighbors.
Who is responsible and is it my homeowners policy or my neighbor’s, since it was their tree? Generally, the person who suffers the property damage, is covered under their own homeowners or auto insurance policy if it was a car that was damaged. In order for the owner of the tree to be responsible for the damaged property of someone else, the insurance company would be looking for “liability or negligence”, an act, or omission of an act, that caused damage to the neighbor’s property. An example of negligence might be: you notified your neighbor that their tree was in bad shape, likely to fall over, and the neighbor chose to do nothing. When it did fall over on to your property, you could have a claim against their homeowners “liability” coverage.
With a storm like we’ve just had, there is typically no negligence and no one to blame. We buy our own insurance for these types of losses.
By having your damage paid under your own insurance policy, you may have a deductible expense. Depending on your insurance policy language, your coverage may be broad or limited. What I see happening quite often, is that there is a cost sharing between the affected neighbors to help with the removal of the tree and sharing of the deductible expense. That may just be the neighborly thing to do.
Don’t be afraid to call your insurance agent and discuss your options, your coverage, and file a claim if necessary. Most good companies will not penalize you for asking questions of coverage, or filing a claim for a “catastrophe” loss. After all, isn’t that what you pay your agent and insurance company to do for you?
If you have any questions, please feel free to give me a call, or message me on Facebook.
Serving the Insurance needs of the Dallas Neighborhoods of University Park, Highland Park, Lake Highlands, Preston Hollow, Oakcliff, and Coppell.