I had trees fall down on my private road during a hurricane. Will my homeowners insurance pay for the damages?
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Asked August 14, 2013
Homeowners insurance provides coverage for the home and any other man-made structures on the property, including fences and driveways. And while you may not have "hurricane" coverage, so to speak, most standard policies do include provisions for damages as a result of wind, rain, and lightning. It may not be in your best interest to file this as a hurricane insurance claim, but simply as wind damage resulting from a storm.
Removing fallen trees is covered by most standard home insurance policies, but there may be limits for each tree, a total limit per claim, and you will probably have to pay a deductible. If your deductible turns out to be within a reasonable amount of the actual cost of the tree removal, it might be better financially to pay for the removal out of pocket, saving your home insurance for something more expensive. Remember, each time you file a claim against your home insurance, it gets added to your clue report and could be detrimental to purchasing affordable insurance policies farther down the road.
If the private road leading to the house is the only access to the property, then repairing it would be covered under your home insurance policy. However, if the private road is a secondary track that is not normally maintained for passenger vehicles, it may not be. For example, if the road is only used occasionally to bring materials or supplies into a shed on the back of your property, and is only composed of sand or dirt, the insurance company may not cover repairing washouts, but would pay for removal of the fallen trees. On the other hand, if the damaged road is paved with gravel or asphalt, then you have an insurable interest in repairing the damages because failure to do so would lower the property value.
Call the customer service department of your insurance company anonymously and explain that you are trying to get some information about insuring a piece of property. You do not have to tell them that you are a policyholder, just ask questions about how a prospective policy might pertain to private roads on the property.
Answered August 14, 2013 by Anonymous