As a homeowner, are you responsible for the damage caused by a tree on your property that hits your neighbor’s home or other insured structure, such as a garage or shed?
In most cases, the answer is “no.”
When such damage occurs to your neighbor’s home due to forces outside your control (e.g., weather events), your neighbors may have to file a claim with their insurer to receive a reimbursement for the damage a down tree or branches cause.
There is one exception, however.
If it is determined that the tree damage stems from your negligence (e.g., dead limbs that you refused to cut down, or you chose to trim your tree as a weekend project), then the neighbor’s insurer may come after you to recover their loss—a process called subrogation.¹
You may want to check your policy or speak to your insurance agent to ascertain if your homeowners policy covers your liability in cases of negligence.
WHEN NEIGHBORS SUE
Some neighbors may seek to bring legal action against you, though often that is unnecessary.
First, determine what municipal laws are in place to cover such instances. Generally speaking, you are not responsible unless you knew, or should have known, about the danger. Proving what you knew or should have known can be difficult and costly in a court of law. It typically benefits both parties to arrive at a compromise that avoids an expensive legal process.