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Help Desk: What To Do If A Tree Causes Property Damage

5:04 PM, Mar 6, 2013   |    comments
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Severe weather brings the threat of fallen trees landing onto your home. 11Alive's Help Desk found that the most common question is if the tree is in your neighbors yard, who is responsible, you or the neighbor?

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The Georgia Insurance Commissioner's office says the most misunderstood coverage in a homeowner's insurance policy is property damage caused by fallen trees. The coverage depends on the circumstances and where the tree fell; however, if your tree falls onto your neighbor's home it is their responsibility, not yours.

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Georgia law states that if your tree was not dead or dying before it fell, you are not liable for your neighbor's damage and you are not legally responsible to give them any money or support.

However, there are some loop holes, but it requires some prep work.  According to Glen Allen, Public Information Officer for the Georgia Office of  Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, if you notify your neighbor in writing that you are concerned about the safety of your home and they do nothing about it, your neighbors could be considered negligent.

Also, Georgia adopted the "visibly dead or diseased" rule for fallen trees. This rule states that if the tree that fell onto your house showed visible signs that it was dead, dying or diseased, then the responsibility would be theirs and not yours. 

Taking pictures of your neighbors suspicious tree is a good way to prove your case if the tree falls. Most insurance companies will also make trips to your home to investigate if a tree is dying, which would also be a way to keep you protected.

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