This past winter a large SUV crashed into a Norway Maple in front of my
house out near the road. The tree has a 7" caliper, 21" circumference and is
about 35-40 feet high. A chunk of the bark about 18" high and about 1/3 of
the circumference was knocked off down to the bare wood.
The driver was very cordial and said that their insurance would pay for the
damage. I had a certified horticulturalist from Weston Nurseries come and
look at the tree and write a letter giving an estimate. It says "This tree
will continue to live for several more years, however, with each year this
tree will leaf out less and less, resulting in rotting branches and internal
rot of the exposed hard wood due to the extensive cambium layer scar. No
remedial action can save this tree."
The numbers were:
Delivery w/crane truck: $275
Tree and stump removal: $600
Installation w/3 laborers and compost soil: $600
After sending this information off to Commerce Insurance, they came back and
said "We'll give you $500 because we do not think the tree needs to be
replaced and that's all that the damaged bark is worth. We sent an adjuster
to look at the tree and it looks just fine."
I am looking to get a second opinion from another certified horticulturalist
who is familiar with tree values and associated costs. Does anyone have any
recommendations or the best way to proceed?
I think the arborist gave you a very sound diagnosis, & the insurance
company is doing what insurance companies always attempt to do, evade
Your next letter to them should be from your attorney, with added costs of
a second aborist's diagnosis, plus attorney fees.
But bare in mind that moving a full grown tree to a new location is not
the most certain way of getting a healthy tree. Unless it comes with a
three-year guarantee (you'll be lucky to get a one-year guarantee, from
tree movers who know it'll last that long at least so they're safe
offering that limited promise) the chances of it slowly wasting away are
very good for an uprooted & transported adult tree. A much younger tree
will settle in much more certainly.
-paghat the ratgirl
"Of what are you afraid, my child?" inquired the kindly teacher.
"Oh, sir! The flowers, they are wild," replied the timid creature.
It might be better to file a claim against your homeowner's policy and
let your insurance company sue the other insurance co. At least talk to
your insurance agent about how to collect from the other deadbeat
insurance company. (it gets interesting if they are the same company)
BTW, around here, Norway Maple is considered an invasive exotic species.
One thing to consider about filing a claim with your insurance company is
that it could end-up getting you dropped, particularly if you have filed
other claims in the last few years. Insurance companies have been
scrambling to cut cost recently with the loss of investment income coupled
with underwriting losses from large-scale disasters. In Ohio, insurers have
been reviewing their files and dropping anyone with more than two claims in
three to five years. I know of two people who were dropped this year even
though they had only filed two small claims that were related to damage
beyond their control. Another person received an advisory letter. In
addition, I learned recently that people are checking the number of claims
that a home seller has filed as part of their home search to make sure that
they can get insurance and that the premiums will be affordable. Filing a
claim may make it harder to sell your home if that is a possibility. Life
never gets more simple.
The business of taking your policy money for twenty years and then dropping
you when you file a claim because the siding blew off your house and then
six months later your roof was damaged by lighting.
also, some insurance companies keep track of calls just
asking about coverage & if you make too many, even if you
never actually file a claim, they will drop you.
if you have questions about what your insurance covers *read
your policy*, don't call the agent... that could get you
Actually, the advice is don't call the 1-800 number, as that call *will*
be tracked. Your local agent is most likely independent or in some way
more dependent on your business so you can consider him an ally.
But yes, it sucks that they drop people even for making *inquiries*.
sounds good but never, ever, never make a claim against homeowners insurance
your house is totaled. they cancel policies and black list people faster than
insurance companies. Ingrid
List Manager: Puregold Goldfish List
Solve the problem, dont waste energy finding who's to blame
Unfortunately, I receive no money, gifts, discounts or other
compensation for all the damn work I do, nor for any of the
endorsements or recommendations I make.
Norway maples are an invasive exotic species all over the country.
They push out native red maples around here, along with sugar maple
seedlings. I can show you acres of forest overtaken by them around
here. They shouldn't be sold period.
Ann, Gardening in zone 6a
Just south of Boston, MA
You could get the 2nd opinion but I suggest you also look into the limit in
small claims court in your area. You can usually sue there without needing
The insurance company is banking that you did not have the tree insured for
more. Your homeowners policy _probably_ would only pay $500 for removal etc
if it got hit by lightning. $500 is the normal for storm damage, be it 1
tree or 20, most policies have a $500 cap per incident (not per tree). You
should be able to verify this through your policy or a quick call to your
agent. Now if you updated your insurance, and can prove you had it insured
for over 6k, then it's a different story.
Your statement is exactly why every homeowner needs to keep their policies
Most homeowners basic policies cover $2k in jewelry, should you have a fire
or anyother loss which is by nature or by a person. You cannot attempt to
claim $10k in jewelry loss, unless you have an additional rider.
Should you add a shed, you need to update your policy.
ANY improvements, be it landscape or structural, you need to update your
policy. Specialty landscapes need a rider, ask your agent.
Insurance is not meant to be a windfall in instances like the OP (which is
how insurance companies look at this). The relevancy of value would come
out in court, if the OP had a rider for a specialty item. If they didn't
feel it was valuable enough for an additional premium, this is one of the
first fact findings arguements in insurance. Rest assured, precedents have
already been set for instances like this.
Policies for actual cash replacement, do not include trees. You can ask
your agent and let them explain to you.
I don't intend to prove a point, give your friendly agent a call and
inquire. Most agents are more than willing to talk about an instance like
If I were the OP, I would talk to my agent first before running to an
attorney. The agent has already been paid to answer questions. The attorney
will answer questions for a fee, and unfortunately some are eager to go to
court be it a win or lose situation. It would be unfortunate for the OP to
have a couple thousand dollars in legal fees, with the end result being
rewarded with $500 as intially offered by the insurance company. The OP is
already mounting fees from a horticulturalist, unless this was a freebee.
I think Vox's point was that the SUV driver's automobile liability
policy would pay, not the homeowner's policy. The homeowner's policy
*should* be irrelevant.
I mentioned the homeowner's policy eariler because it would (I think)
cover whatever was not paid by the other guy's auto policy. The
homeowner's insurance company would have an interest in you collecting
from that other policy so they wouldn't have to pay anything.
I still don't think I explained that very well...
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