My Neighbor's Tree Crushed Part of My Fence in a Storm. Here's Why I'm Out of Luck

So far, this winter has been a doozy in my neck of the woods. Not only have we had several snowstorms (albeit fairly minor ones), but we’ve also had several Nor’easters that have brought driving rain and intense winds to the region.

During a recent storm, a portion of a tree from my neighbor’s backyard fell and landed directly on my backyard fence, crushing one of the panels. You’d think that since the damage originated from another property, I wouldn’t be looking at out-of-pocket expenses to get it fixed. But you’d be wrong.

My only option is to file a claim with my own insurance company

One big myth about property damage is that your neighbors are responsible for damage caused by their trees. If you can prove negligence on a neighbor’s part, that may be the case. Otherwise, if it’s a general act of nature, usually, your only option in a situation like mine is to file a claim with your own homeowners insurance policy.

If your insurer then opts to try to recoup money from your neighbor’s homeowners insurance company, so be it. But that’s not up to you, and it may not even impact you. If your property sustains damage and your insurance company approves your claim, it ultimately doesn’t really matter to you which insurer pays. And unfortunately, your premiums might rise going forward by simply filing a claim to begin with, regardless of who pays.

Why I won’t see a dime from my insurer for this incident

The fact that my neighbor’s tree only took out one panel of my fence is a blessing as well as a curse. On the one hand, I’m glad the damage wasn’t so extensive because the repair is fairly simple. Also, while the panel needs to be replaced, it’s intact just enough to keep my backyard secured. That’s important when you have a large dog with impressive jumping abilities and kids who play in the yard alike.

On the other hand, because the damage wasn’t so extreme, the cost of repairing that fence panel is less than my homeowners insurance deductible. It makes no sense to file a claim, since I won’t get paid any money.

Read more: check out our picks for best homeowners insurance companies

Know what your deductible entails

If your home sustains damage, whether in a storm or otherwise, don’t automatically assume you’ll be able to file a claim with your homeowners insurance company. Your deductible might make a claim useless. And the higher your deductible, the less viable a claim for minor or moderate damage might be.

Forbes Advisor says that homeowners deductibles typically range from $250 to $2,500. If you have a $2,500 deductible, you may not end up filing many claims against your policy, whereas with a $250 deductible, you may be more likely to land in a situation where your insurer will pay for a repair once you’ve paid your portion.

Meanwhile, because I’m going to have to foot the bill for my fence repair on my own, I’ve decided to do the work myself — or, more accurately, have my husband take over the work and help as best as I can. For the most part, that will probably mean fetching him and his friends cold drinks while they repair my fence since I’m not particularly handy and would probably hinder the work more than assist.

But either way, if you’re a homeowner, it’s important to know what your insurance deductible amounts to. That way, you’ll know whether it pays to file a claim after a given incident or just deal with the problem yourself.

Our picks for best homeowners insurance companies

There are many homeowners insurance companies to choose from. We’ve researched dozens of options and short-listed our favorites here. Looking for a green build discount or easy bundle policies? Want an easy-to-use interface? Read our free expert review and get a quote today.

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