Posted : 01/01/2011
Usually, you would file a claim on your home insurance policy because that's the policy that covers your property. Your neighbor's insurance covers only his or her property, not yours.
However, your insurance company could go after your neighbor's insurer if there was strong evidence that the neighbor's negligence led to the tree's downfall. If you had notified the neighbor the tree was diseased and required trimming or removal, for instance, that written communication could be used to show that the neighbor's lack of attention caused the problem. In that case, the neighbor's insurance company might have to pay for the repairs and your deductible.
But if the tree fell because of bad weather, your insurer would have to cover the tab to fix the fence, and you would have to pay the deductible if you filed a claim.
Of course, it wouldn't hurt to have a friendly chat with the neighbor about the problem. Perhaps you could work out an agreement to share the expense of your deductible.
Or, you both could pitch in for repairs and skip filing an insurance claim. Generally, it's best to rely on home insurance for big losses and avoid filing a lot of small claims barely over the deductible. Too many small claims can lead to premium increases, which over the long haul can add up to more than the money received for the claims.
Mending fences between neighbors without getting insurance companies involved can save money. But more importantly, a spirit of cooperation can lead to a satisfying and peaceful coexistence.
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