Fallen trees and your insurance: what you need to know

Fallen trees and your insurance: Part 2

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - People in Columbus, Georgia are still dealing with the aftermath of heavy rain and strong winds from Wednesday.

Michael Brown from Broken Branch Tree Services said he and his crew have had a busy summer with many people calling to get their torn down trees removed.

"We seem to have more this year than we did last year," Brown said. "This year there has been trees with diseases or other issues that haven't been taken care of. Many people forget to check the warning signs by looking for holes or other unhealthy symptoms on their trees. That is why multiple trees are falling this season due to frequent rainy days."

No leaves on the tree mean that it is dead. Brown also said people need to check for any holes on the side of the trees, since that means those trees could be hollow. If an unhealthy or dead tree stands near homes or cars, there is a high chance of the tree damaging properties during storms.

Brent Parker from Parker Insurance Adjusters in Columbus told News Leader 9 what people need to do when trees damage their properties.

Parker explained that people need to mediate their damages. They need to protect their properties and people by preventing further damages. People also need to notify their insurance company about the problem. Then they should contact local emergency home services that specialize in insurance works since they can provide temporary repair.

The city takes care of trees that are on the road or on city's properties. However, what do you need to do if a neighbor's tree falls into your backyard?

It all depends on the health status of the tree.

If a neighbor's healthy tree fell into your backyard, then unfortunately, it is still your responsibility. The neighbor had no intention of causing damage to your property with his or her healthy tree; the neighbor also did not have knowledge that this event would occur, since their tree was healthy.

However, if the neighbor's tree happened to be dead before it was torn down, then the neighbor has to pay for any damages it caused you and your property. When a tree is dead, it is a threat to anyone living near it. The neighbor or the owner of the dead tree might have already received a written document or letter from others to have the dead tree removed. Since the neighbor did not follow the safety procedure by getting rid of the dead tree fast enough, the neighbor will have to pay for any damages the fallen tree caused you and your properties.

Most homeowner insurance covers the damages, but it is important to check with your insurance to see what coverage it offers.

"Look for holes and knots in the trees," Brown explained. "If the tree's structure is odd or it is bent, then you need to have a professional come and look at it. People need to look and see if their trees might cause a threat during rainy days. When it rains often, the ground becomes wet, and wind could blow the tree over."

Copyright 2013 WTVM. All rights reserved.