New Hampshire Insurance Dept: Track Tornado Tree Damage

July 28, 2008

New Hampshire residents facing downed trees on their houses or in their yards from Thursday’s tornado could face some hefty bills.

A typical homeowner’s insurance policy in New Hampshire covers only $1,000 for tree removal and $500 for any single tree, said Roger Sevigny, the state’s insurance commissioner.

“I would advise people to call your insurance company and take some pictures,” he said. “Don’t hold up, at least on the emergency repairs. Do the emergency repairs right away.”

Sevigny said if a tree hits a car, at least part of the tree removal is covered under a standard homeowner’s policy while damage to the car is covered by auto insurance.

“It’s going to be a mammoth cleanup,” predicted Bill Collins, owner of Collins Tree Service in Hooksett.

He said homeowners face bills “in the thousands of dollars to remove (trees) if they’re on the house.”

On Friday, Collins received a few calls from people whose yards suffered damage from Thursday’s tornado. He expected a brisk business this week after people get power and telephone service back.

Collins said some pre-storm customers already have contacted him; a recent tree removal from a home required a crane and cost between $2,500 and $3,000, he said.

He urged people to ask a tree service to have the service’s insurance company provide a certificate of insurance. After storms like these, he said, “everybody and his brother is in the tree business with a chainsaw.”

Public Service of New Hampshire spokesman Martin Murray said the electric utility has contracted tree crews that will cut up downed trees to allow for power to be restored.

If PSNH can safely restore power by cutting away a tree on private property, its crew will cut the tree for free and leave the wood for the homeowner to deal with, he said.


Information from: New Hampshire Union Leader

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