Who's Responsible if My Tree Cutter Drops a Branch on My Neighbor's Shed?

(Plus which coverages would protect all parties involved)
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for TrustedChoice.com by authoring consumable, understandable content.

paul martin Reviewed by Paul Martin
paul martin
Reviewed by Paul Martin

Paul Martin is the Director of Education and Development for Myron Steves, one of the largest, most respected insurance wholesalers in the southern U.S.

Tree Cutter

As a proud homeowner, you want to keep the foliage surrounding your house trimmed to perfection. But what happens when a professional tree cutter accidentally drops a limb on your neighbor’s shed and smashes it? Who’s responsible for this mess, anyway?

Fortunately, an independent insurance agent can help you consider any risks before they ever happen, from the common to the obscure. They’ve seen and handled all kinds of claims when it comes to property damage, and they know how to hook you up with the exact protection you need, long before you ever need it. Here’s how they’d help you get covered against fallen tree branches.

Who’s Responsible if a Tree Cutter Drops a Tree Limb on My Neighbor’s Shed?

The professional tree cutting service would be held responsible in this scenario. Since these incidents happen sometimes, tree cutters are most always required to carry their own insurance policy before they’re allowed to work on someone’s property whether they’re an independent contractor or hired through a company. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Before hiring a tree cutting service, ask about their insurance coverage, just to be safe.

What if a Tree Cutter Doesn’t Have Insurance or Isn’t Bonded?

When hiring a professional service to trim your trees, it’s very important to check their credentials before they ever bring the chainsaws onto your property. The fact is, it’s state law across many states for professional tree cutters to be licensed, bonded, and insured, but there are always exceptions and businesses that somehow slip through the cracks.

Fortunately, if the tree cutter doesn’t carry their own insurance, you’re still protected under your own homeowners coverage. Your neighbor would also be covered under their homeowners policy. Your neighbor’s coverage would even pay to remove the tree branch from their property, on top of repairing damage to their shed. So while the fault really is on the professional tree cutting service, regardless of whether they carry coverage or not, protection is still available.

If the Incident Is All on You, How Does Property Insurance Help?

A type of coverage known as "tree damage cleanup" is built into standard homeowners insurance policies. This coverage includes the removal of trees or shrubs that fall on insured structures, as well as any necessary repairs or debris cleanup. In the event the tree branch falls onto your neighbor’s property, you’re also covered.

Property damage provides coverage for fallen tree branches in the following ways:

  • Fallen tree and shrub removal: Coverage will pay for the removal of fallen trees/shrubs on your neighbor’s property, as long as the cause of the fall was a covered peril. Depending on the policy, covered perils often include hail, ice, snow, sleet, or wind, but you’d also be covered in the event a professional tree cutter caused the incident.
  • Debris cleanup and removal: Along with the removal of the actual plant, coverage can pay to clean up the debris left behind, whether it’s just the tree branch itself or wood and glass pieces from your neighbor’s smashed shed.

Though it would be an unfortunate event if your tree cutter dropped a branch on your neighbor’s shed and destroyed it, luckily homeowners insurance provides protection for these mishaps. Talk with your independent agent if you have any concerns about upcoming home projects such as tree cutting. They’ll ensure you have all the protection you need.

What if Someone Gets Hurt in the Incident?

Sadly, sometimes fallen tree branches cause more than just property damage. Your neighbors or any guests on their property could potentially get injured in the incident. Even though it’s technically the tree cutter’s fault, the homeowner can still be held vicariously liable in some cases. Luckily your homeowners insurance provides liability coverage, which protects you in the following ways:

  • Legal fees: Liability coverage pays for attorney, court, and legal fees, including any settlements you may be ordered to pay in the event your neighbor sues you.
  • Medical payments: Your liability coverage also pays for injuries to a third party, such as your neighbors or their guests, in the event a branch from one of your trees falls onto their property.

Your tree branch falling onto your neighbor’s property would be stressful enough if it just caused damage to their shed, but personal injuries would take it to the next level. Fortunately, no matter how grim the situation, your homeowners policy would protect you.

Is Umbrella Coverage Necessary?

Umbrella insurance is essentially excess liability coverage that stacks on top of the underlying liability coverage provided by your homeowners policy. Umbrella insurance policies typically come with limits of $1 million in coverage. Though you may not need this much coverage for something like a tree branch falling onto your neighbor’s policy, it’s still a good idea to have umbrella coverage to protect yourself from any potentially costly lawsuits in the future.

How Would a Fallen Tree Branch Affect Your Insurance Premiums?

Fortunately, a professional tree cutting service dropping a tree limb onto your neighbor’s property shouldn’t affect your homeowners premium. Insurance companies don’t tend to punish homeowners for a single incident like this, especially if it wasn’t actually their fault. However, if you were to start cutting your trees often and several incidents of this kind happened, your insurance provider may decide to hike up your premium or even not renew your contract.

Other Common Risks You Should Consider Coverage For

Aside from fallen tree branches, there are plenty of other, more typical property damage risks that homeowners absolutely need to consider protecting. Fortunately, the following common perils are also covered by under the property damage section of standard homeowners insurance policies:

  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Building collapse
  • Sinkhole collapse
  • Automatic sprinkler leakage
  • Lightning
  • Volcanic action
  • Most explosions
  • Windstorms/hail
  • Accidental fire and resulting smoke damage
  • Riot/civil commotion
  • Certain types of water/other liquid damage

An independent insurance agent will help to consider all risks unique to your home and ensure that you get set up with all the property damage coverage you could ever need. They’ll also be able to review your specific insurance policy and spot coverage gaps in any areas of concern. If you’re lacking protection in an area, they’ll help to patch those holes.

Here’s How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

When it comes to protecting your home and your neighbors’ from fallen tree branches and all other strange incidents, no one’s better equipped to help than an independent insurance agent. Independent insurance agents search through multiple carriers to find providers who specialize in homeowners and property insurance, deliver quotes from a number of different sources, and help you walk through them all to find the best blend of coverage and cost.

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