GREENSBORO, N.C. — WHEN A TREE FALLS ON A HOUSE
The Insurance Information Institute says no matter where a tree came from --your yard, your neighbor's yard, it doesn't matter. If it hit your house -- your homeowners insurance will cover the cost.
DANGEROUS TREE? PUT IT IN WRITING!
The only time your neighbor's insurance could be on the hook for paying for your damage is if you have already notified the neighbor, your insurance company and theirs that the tree is a danger. This notification needs to be in writing BEFORE any damage takes place.
TREE REMOVAL: WHAT INSURANCE WILL & WON'T PAY FOR
Usually, the insurance company will cover the cost of getting the tree out of the house and repairing the house. But many policies don't cover cutting up the tree and physically removing it off your property-- that's an out of pocket cost.
Also, if the tree falls on your property and doesn't hit the house, chances are your insurance will NOT pay for any of the costs.
When you contract with a company for tree removal, make sure the cost includes the actual removal of the debris from your property. Many times the cost only includes cutting up the tree into manageable parts. Get it all in writing.
TREE ON YOUR CAR
If a tree or limb or even the carport falls on your vehicle damaging it, it is your car insurance that pays--never your homeowners. (Again, the tree rule for homes applies here too. It doesn't matter where the tree comes from, it's your insurance claim!) For this kind of damage to be paid for by your auto insurance, you need to have Comprehensive Coverage.
Comprehensive Coverage helps pay to replace or repair your vehicle if it's stolen or damaged by a non-accident-- fire, vandalism, falling objects like a tree or hail. If you don't have this coverage-- you don't get any money.
Do you have it? If you're still making payments on your vehicle, you have comprehensive coverage because lenders require it. If you have an older car--- you need to do the math to figure out if getting comprehensive insurance is worth it.
Nerd Wallet has not just the equation, but those numbers mean for you. The equation they use includes:
Car Value – Comprehensive Deductible = XX
XX – Cost of Comprehensive Coverage for 6 months = YY
TREE REMOVAL/ROOF DAMAGE SCAMS
It's pretty common for scammers to come around the days and weeks after storms in an effort to "help you". Usually, they say they "happen to be in the neighborhood doing other work" and can remove your trees or repair your roof for cheap but the deal is good ONLY TODAY. Any legitimate company will offer its services today and tomorrow and the next day for the same price.
PAYING FOR SERVICES
NEVER pay in full for any service upfront and in cash. The rule of thumb is to pay for 1/4 of the service upfront, 1/4 in the middle and 1/4 at the end. While cash may get you a better price, it also cannot be stopped like a check or a credit card.
Price gouging is only in effect when the Governor declares A State Of Emergency. The rules vary state to state but in North Carolina, they *only* apply to things needed in an emergency and help sustain life, health or safety.
The law states the price cannot be unreasonable. What is unreasonable? It depends. And it has to be documented. A store might have paid for an overnight shipment of water and the price of that water may have been double what they normally pay. The store would pass on that price to you. But if the store is simply jacking up the price of inventory they already have, then it's gouging.
“Unfortunately there are always a few out there who try to take advantage of a situation to make an extra buck,” says NC Attorney General Josh Stein. “That's not right and in North Carolina, that's not legal. My office at the attorney general's office will hold those folks accountable.”
A Lexington man was ordered to pay $20,000 in fines for price gouging customers for tree removal after Hurricane Florence.
So, what do you do if you think you've been gouged? You report it to the Attorney General.
- Toll-free within North Carolina: 1-877-5-NO-SCAM
You can call them or submit a form online. To help prove your case, keep your receipts, estimates. You'll need to know the business location and the day and time of the purchase.
POWER OUTAGES & WHO PAYS
The fridge and freezer loss can really add up. Some homeowners policies have food line items. You can call your insurance agent.
But don't be surprised if you have to pay the deductible first, which might negate the whole claim for you.