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Texas homeowners insurance alert: Falling tree liability

By Higginbotham on October 26 , 2016

Falling Tree Liability

Storms give Texas homeowners plenty to worry about. Will a lightning strike cause a power surge? Will flooding occur? Will high winds break the windows? Will a tree fall?

For homeowners with large trees on their property, this last question is especially important. When trees fall, they do considerable property damage, put people in physical danger and leave the homeowner vulnerable to lawsuits. If someone is injured or killed by your falling tree, and you haven’t taken steps to ensure it was properly maintained and healthy, you could be found liable.

The individual incidents are harrowing. In April, a tornado in Tomball, Texas caused several trees to fall, resulting in severe roof damage, injuries and the death of a woman. One month later, more trees fell during a storm in Hooks, Texas, damaging at least two houses and trapping one man inside his home.

Storms don’t need to reach hurricane or tornado levels to topple trees. Unhealthy trees are especially vulnerable, and homeowners who neglect their trees can be found liable for any damages that result.

Prevent tragedy, protect your home and defend yourself against lawsuits by being responsible for your trees. Here’s how:

  • You see your trees every day, but how carefully do you actually look at them? To make sure you’re not missing any warning signs, you should conduct annual inspections of your trees. Look for signs of rot, disease and pests, all of which can make a tree more likely to fall. For more information, read the Arbor Day Foundation’s helpful checklist, available here.
  • Because you’re probably not a tree expert yourself, you may need to enlist the help of an arborist, especially if you find signs of damage.
  • If a tree is deemed dangerous, you will need to take action, possibly including the removal of the tree in question. Note that falling branches can be as deadly and damaging as falling trees. Take suspicious branches seriously even if the tree itself looks healthy. Failure to heed warning signs will make you liable if disaster strikes.
  • Preventing damage is always easier than dealing with damage that has already occurred. Don’t wait for signs of a problem to start paying attention to your trees. Keep your trees healthy by taking proper care of them year-round.

Texas SmartScape provides information on tree maintenance, including fertilizing, watering, mulching and pruning tips. According to their site, the number one killer of trees is too much or too little water.

With the right care, you can reduce the risk of a tree falling on your property.

And with the right insurance, you’ll be ready if and when disaster strikes. Have you reviewed your homeowners insurance policy limits lately? Do you need a flood insurance policy? Would an umbrella policy be a good idea for your situation? Your Higginbotham agent can answer these questions and more.

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Tags: Home & Auto

  
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