PEMCO Poll Finds Most Don’t Know Consequences of Damage From Fallen Trees

December 22, 2011

We’ve all heard the old saying, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” An interesting philosophical question, but for homeowners in the verdant, thickly wooded Northwest, a more topical question is, “If your neighbor’s tree falls on your house, whose insurance covers the damage?”

That question – and people’s perceptions about the answer – is the basis of a recent poll from Seattle-based PEMCO Insurance and, according to the data, most respondents got the answer wrong.

PEMCO’s Northwest Poll reveals that 82 percent of those surveyed falsely believe that a neighbor’s insurance policy is at least partially liable for property damage if a tree planted in the neighbor’s yard harms your nearby structure.

But according to PEMCO, unless negligence is a factor, homeowners assume responsibility for structural damage to their own property, even if the damage results from a neighbor’s toppled tree.

“With so few homeowners knowing the right answer, and windstorms so common in the Northwest, we have a great opportunity here to educate consumers,” said PEMCO spokesperson Jon Osterberg.

Luckily, most homeowner insurance policies provide coverage for damage to the home, along with coverage for debris removal.

However, if it’s proven that the damage stems from the neighbor neglecting to maintain the health or safety of the tree, the neighbor could be held responsible for damage caused by the fallen tree.

Regardless of the scenario, PEMCO recommends that both parties file a claim with their own insurers if they ever suffer property damage from a fallen tree.

Source: PEMCO Insurance

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