Storm cleanup: What’s covered by insurance?

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If you’re dealing with damage from Wednesday night’s storm, chances are your best friend is the one who owns a chain saw.

But your insurance agent is probably a close second.

“You have a lot of questions when your life gets thrown in turmoil when trees come down on your house in the middle of the night,” said Derek Boer of the Boer Insurance Group.

And the question agents like Boer gets the most is what’s covered?

The answer — if a tree fell in the yard, in most cases, it’s your responsibility to have it cleared out.

If it hit your house, that’s another story.   

“Typically, your insurance policy is going to help you remove trees that are leaning up against your house or your garage,” he said. “Then, there’s usually some limited coverage to chop them up and get them off of your property.”

If you have damage, you’ve probably already been on the phone to arrange the repairs.

But before you make those arrangements, make sure the insurance adjuster can see the before, not the after.

“The first thing I would say is you can never take too many pictures,” Boer said. “So, go out there, take photos of the damage. Take photos of the trees that are down. The one that might be laying up against the house. Your neighbor’s trees that might have come across your property line. Take as many photos as you can.”

By now, you’ve found a contractor that will help you out.

But you’ll want to make sure your claim is not red-flagged by your insurance company.

“We’ve seen a couple of companies that will bring a crane out to lift a small limb off of someone’s roof, and then they charge you $6,000 for doing so because they know the insurance company’s going to pay it,” he said.

Chances are, the answer to whether you’re paying a fair price is on the other side of the fence.

“If you’ve got neighbors who are getting similar services done, just ask them what they’re paying,” Boer said.

And finally, what about that buddy with the chain saw? If they get hurt, can you get sued?

“If they’re on your property, typically your homeowner’s liability coverage is going to protect you if, God forbid, something should happen to them when they’re slinging the chain saws and whatnots,” Boer said.

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