The recent windstorms ravaging the front range of Colorado have been getting a lot of attention in the news lately, and with good reason. The pictures of downed light poles and trees on the tops of roofs makes for some pretty good visuals, like this one:
But what should you do if you come home to find your neighbor's tree on the top of your house? Who's responsible for the clean up? Who takes care of the damages? Who needs to call the insurance company? Unfortunately, the answers to all three questions is YOU about 99% of the time.
Unless your neighbor has neglected the tree (it was rotten and ready to fall down and they left it there anyway), it's not their fault that a giant windstorm came through town and knocked their tree over. It's not their fault that their perfectly healthy tree could not handle the hurricane force winds and ended up on your house. And since it's not their fault, they are not liable and since they are not liable they are not responsible to pay for the damages.
Think about it this way, a tornado comes through a town and picks up a large tree out of your yard. It carries the tree 10 miles down the road and drops it off in the next town - on someone's house. They would have no idea who the tree belonged to, but even if they did it's not your fault that the tornado passed through and took your tree with it. The same is true if it lands on your neighbors house. Just because you know the tree belonged to them, it doesn't mean they are responsible for the damage.
Luckily you have home insurance. Your home insurance will help you with the damages (minus your deductible). It will count as a claim against your home insurance even though it was not your fault and it may have an impact on your rates, so make sure you discuss it with your local, professional agent if you find yourself (and your house) sitting under a tree.