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Is Damaged Fence (Tree Fell) Worth Homeowners Claim?

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rated:
I searched.

We have a black aluminum fence around 3 sides of our yard. Cost was $6,870 new. 

A decent sized tree just now fell in my backyard from the woods behind the fence (from what I think is was not on my property, it is dark and raining, but that's beside the point since what I read online says our homeowners insurance is responsible for our fence) and wiped out.. let's estimate 33% of the fence. 

We have a $2,390 deductible (about 34% of what the fence cost new). Add in ... $300-500?... for tree removal and we'd be slightly ahead. This is assuming you can only replace part of the fence and not have to redo it all. 

But then we would have claim in the insurance company's system. I fear rate increases or being dropped after something actually significant. We have a large emergency fund in cash and can pay for it out of pocket... just making sure I'm not missing something here from a FWF standpoint. 

Thanks for the advice as always. Waiting for my blood pressure to go down and adrenaline to get out of my system. 

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You probably couldn't get that much yourself.

Mills are always hesitant to buy from some random landowner a tree that was... (more)

gatzdon (Sep. 07, 2017 @ 7:00a) |

Yeah, everybody has a story about how much their tree is worth, but OP got the best deal he could hope for by having som... (more)

dcwilbur (Sep. 07, 2017 @ 7:20a) |

Fir sure.

Logan71 (Sep. 17, 2017 @ 7:32a) |

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rated:
Happened just now?  Wait until the morning and survey the damage before worrying about it. 

Second, if it's a neighbor's tree, they might be responsible if they should've known it was a potential hazard.  If you are nice about it, they might take responsibility regardless.

Third, dont decide to file a insurance claim based on if you'll "come out ahead".  Only you know what you can afford, but with a $2400 deductible, in general until the damage totals at least $5-10k you shouldn't even consider a claim.

rated:
Yea happened just now. I went out to see to make sure it wasn't going to push another tree down toward our house.

I think it is a neighbor's tree, but it is a big lot and this is in a heavily wooded area. I guess you could say they should inspect all of their trees, but I'm not even sure anyone is living in their house, etc.

That's what I figured -- just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything in terms of fence replacement, costs, other risks I might not be aware of, etc.

rated:
Green for a tree thread but it needs pics.

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qcumber98 said:   Green for a tree thread but it needs pics.
  Promise to have tomorrow. Sucks. I hate using our emergency fund. Kind of like insurance companies hating to pay claims? :\

rated:
Forget the neighbor angle. Unless you have said something before it's pointless. You can, however, take a look to see if there are any obviously dangerous tree on neighboring properties.

How big is the trunk at base and how high? Since it's already down, you can rent a chainsaw from Home Depot and cut it up. Most of the fence sections probably could also be salvaged.

rated:
Seems like 33% damage vs 34% deductible so your claim would be tree removal of $300-500? If so I wouldn't even consider making a claim. I would need to net ~$5000 or more to file a claim personally.

rated:
ZenNUTS said:   Forget the neighbor angle. Unless you have said something before it's pointless. You can, however, take a look to see if there are any obviously dangerous tree on neighboring properties.

How big is the trunk at base and how high? Since it's already down, you can rent a chainsaw from Home Depot and cut it up. Most of the fence sections probably could also be salvaged.

  Yea that's the thing... there are several tall trees nearby... don't think any of them could hit our house, but definitely going to try and figure that out. Again problem is the lot behind us is a large wooded lot with what looks like an abandoned house. Guess I have to track down the owner... whoever that may be. 

rated:
kmully said:   
ZenNUTS said:   Forget the neighbor angle. Unless you have said something before it's pointless. You can, however, take a look to see if there are any obviously dangerous tree on neighboring properties.

How big is the trunk at base and how high? Since it's already down, you can rent a chainsaw from Home Depot and cut it up. Most of the fence sections probably could also be salvaged.

  Yea that's the thing... there are several tall trees nearby... don't think any of them could hit our house, but definitely going to try and figure that out. Again problem is the lot behind us is a large wooded lot with what looks like an abandoned house. Guess I have to track down the owner... whoever that may be. 

  "Tall" trees arent a hazard.  Dead/diseased trees can be.  A healthy tree that succumbed to high winds is unfortunate but not anyone's fault - like you seem to be accepting.
 

rated:

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As promised, pics.

Kind of hard to see, but the main tree (probably 24" in diameter, hard to get a good look at it since it is behind the fences) starts behind the top right behind where the black fence and wooden privacy fence meet. Massive tree, fell over, snapped a smaller tree )maybe.... 8" diameter?... along with it. The tree is laying behind two trees on our hill side. Obviously the brighter looking parts on the left are part of the fallen tree, not part of the trees on the hill.

Added a photo to show where it is at. Arrow is pointing to direction of base of large tree. The two vertical lines is the smaller tree that was snapped off about 10-15' above ground. I believe the smaller tree is the 'top' portion of lines drawn here, with the fence crusher the long continuous line.

Thanks as always for the advice. Looks now more like 40-50% of the fence is damaged. I don't think that changes anything... just sucks. Yay credit card points?

re: glitch -- this looks to be a dead tree. There isn't much green on it -- when it hit, it shattered. I drove on the road past where we could see this, looks to completely uprooted itself as it fell. It had been raining, but not anything hard or for long periods of time. So maybe combination of old/diseased tree, poor or dying root structure, some moisture in the soil, and some wind?

rated:
Glitch99 said:   Happened just now?  Wait until the morning and survey the damage before worrying about it. 

Second, if it's a neighbor's tree, they might be responsible if they should've known it was a potential hazard.  If you are nice about it, they might take responsibility regardless.

Third, dont decide to file a insurance claim based on if you'll "come out ahead".  Only you know what you can afford, but with a $2400 deductible, in general until the damage totals at least $5-10k you shouldn't even consider a claimC.

Curious   why $5-10K?  (I have a $500 deductible)

rated:
Looks like cottonwood or similar and it's a dangerous tree even when healthy. Again, you can rent a chainsaw and cut up the tree yourself. A tree outfit will probably charge $500 to $1k.

Also talk to your neighbor, put them on notice for other potential dangerous trees, most tree outfit will have someone that's ISA certified to evaluate the condition of trees.

rated:
qcumber98 said:   Green for a tree thread but it needs pics.
  This is a tree and a fence thread.  Should be ultra popular.

rated:
needhelpplease said:   
Glitch99 said:   Happened just now?  Wait until the morning and survey the damage before worrying about it. 

Second, if it's a neighbor's tree, they might be responsible if they should've known it was a potential hazard.  If you are nice about it, they might take responsibility regardless.

Third, dont decide to file a insurance claim based on if you'll "come out ahead".  Only you know what you can afford, but with a $2400 deductible, in general until the damage totals at least $5-10k you shouldn't even consider a claimC.

Curious   why $5-10K?  (I have a $500 deductible)

  Lower deductibles are expensive (and generally you don't want to make claims when that low anyways).  1% of the house value or 2% were the only options I looked at.

No need for tiny deductible if you have $$$ in reserve.

rated:
Update: friend from church group is bringing over a chainsaw tomorrow morning. Wants it as firewood. Borrowing an electric cut saw, ropes, etc. from my father-in-law to handle the smaller branches while buddy tackles the big chunks. So hopefully just saved $500-1,000 (he says before the huge log rolls down the hill and into my living room...). Plan is to get the part that is on my property cut up and try and roll the remainder back up onto their property safely (and where it won't roll out of position).

No call out to fence company, holiday weekend, want to discover how bad fence is. I've got to imagine it being horizontal instead of vertical makes salvaging any of that part of the fence... unlikely... but I'd love to be told I'm wrong because I don't understand how aluminum fencing is put together. (Please save me $3k!)

rated:
kmully said:   Update: friend from church group is bringing over a chainsaw tomorrow morning. Wants it as firewood. Borrowing an electric cut saw, ropes, etc. from my father-in-law to handle the smaller branches while buddy tackles the big chunks. So hopefully just saved $500-1,000 (he says before the huge log rolls down the hill and into my living room...). Plan is to get the part that is on my property cut up and try and roll the remainder back up onto their property safely (and where it won't roll out of position).

No call out to fence company, holiday weekend, want to discover how bad fence is. I've got to imagine it being horizontal instead of vertical makes salvaging any of that part of the fence... unlikely... but I'd love to be told I'm wrong because I don't understand how aluminum fencing is put together. (Please save me $3k!)

  How does a tree damage half of a fence going around 3 sides of the property?  Did it fall along the fence line, instead of across it?

You are right to get the tree cleaned up before evaluating the fence and making calls; those pictures don't really show anything.  But you should contact the owner of the tree ASAP, if it was dead/decaying.  Not that you can really force him to pay (or it'd be a longshot to try), but he may not know that.

And there's no knowing what needs to be replaced; if it's laying on the ground, just the posts may have bent but the panels still be fine.  Who knows.

rated:
Bend3r said:   
needhelpplease said:   
Glitch99 said:   Happened just now?  Wait until the morning and survey the damage before worrying about it. 

Second, if it's a neighbor's tree, they might be responsible if they should've known it was a potential hazard.  If you are nice about it, they might take responsibility regardless.

Third, dont decide to file a insurance claim based on if you'll "come out ahead".  Only you know what you can afford, but with a $2400 deductible, in general until the damage totals at least $5-10k you shouldn't even consider a claimC.

Curious   why $5-10K?  (I have a $500 deductible)

  Lower deductibles are expensive (and generally you don't want to make claims when that low anyways).  1% of the house value or 2% were the only options I looked at.

No need for tiny deductible if you have $$$ in reserve.

  There is a middle ground to balance - ideally you've already set your deductible to what you can afford (or are willing) to pay out of pocket, but you also don't want to go through a claim that'll only net you a few bucks benefit.

rated:
Glitch99 said:   How does a tree damage half of a fence going around 3 sides of the property?  Did it fall along the fence line, instead of across it?I'm curious about this too. I don't know what "black aluminum fence" is and can't see it in the pictures, but how does a tree take out more than a couple sections of it? Sounds like a couple hundred bucks to me - get the replacement sections, sink a few new posts if necessary, and put it back up. Great Labor Day project (once the branches are cleared). I would never file an insurance claim for something like this.
  

rated:
If it's cottonwood, it's no use as firewood.

rated:

fence3 (1.70MB)
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Alright my friends, here we go:

1. This might be the unluckiest tree coming down ever? It was easily 100-120 feet long, well back on my neighbor's property. The way it fell did in fact take it down the fence line -- maybe a 15-20 degree angle off of the fence line. It also took out not just one other tree, but 4 other trees on the way down. Thus in the first photos you can't really tell what is going on -- and I couldn't either until we hacked our way back into the woods. I say unluckiest because if it had fallen another... 10 feet back toward the woods and away from my house we'd be having a discussion on how to maximize profit from a nice tree that fell on your property instead of whether or not to file a homeowners insurance claim.

2. Two guys showed up with a chainsaw, plus my father-in-law. We were able to get the entire section up to our property line cut up and either rolled down the hill to load in a truck or thrown back past the fence line. 

3. I believe one of the guys that came to help us today said it was red oak, and they were salivating over it for their stash of firewood for 2018. The tree was green/healthy, so won't burn this year. Also makes it rather odd that a healthy tree of that size just uprooted in a few days of rain. Took one truck load and he's welcome to come back for at least 2-3 more.

4. Attached some photos: 1st one - empirical evidence of what happens when a 100' tree falls over down your fence line - 2nd one - looking up the hill toward the tree, tried to give it some scale a to how thick it was. 3rd one is up near the top corner/biggest section of the tree looking down where the fence used to be.

5. I think we're looking at 50% of the fence being replaced. We have a back gate that leads to the woods along the tree line. The gate is fine, and maybe 1 or 2 sections to the right of it, but everything else up the hill is ... well you see the photo.

6. May have missed an opportunity to truly FWF this. Buddy with wood knowledge said the long section from the roots up to our end cut point would easily be worth $500-1,000 at the mill because it is very straight and apparently good wood. But it isn't on my property... 

7. It sheered off the aluminum posts at the ground. Pretty interesting to see the force. The photo that shows the fence in it doesn't do enough justice as to how smashed some of the sections were.

Let me know what other questions you have. Pretty sore, but glad we got it done. Now concerned there is one other massive tree -- probably 150' -- behind my next door neighbor's house on the same property where this one fell. It is a house crusher... need to figure out how to track down the owners and alert them and/or offer to help split cost with neighbor for removal.

rated:
In my county, you can view who owns any property via the county government Property Tax link
http://www2.monroecounty.gov/property-index.php

I can see the Tax Bill of all my neighbors, and what the tax bill mailing address is.

rated:
With deductible as high as yours, I wouldn't even consider a homeowners' claim for this.

In fact, I wouldn't file a homeowners' claim unless it was a loss I could not personally afford. I've filed a large claim in the past and it made finding insurance a nightmare, once my insurance company dropped me.

They've got a nice scam going, these insurance companies. You pay in, and are severely penalized (in more ways than just the obvious premium increases) for ever cashing out.

rated:
camiolo said:   In my county, you can view who owns any property via the county government Property Tax link
http://www2.monroecounty.gov/property-index.php 

I can see the Tax Bill of all my neighbors, and what the tax bill mailing address is.

  We have that as well. The problem is the people that owned the property are deceased, it has passed to heirs down the line, and at the end of the day when a healthy tree falls your insurance company says it is on you to deal with it (or them if you want to file a claim). If it were diseased, might be a different story.

defjukie: yea definitely feels that way right now. No sense in having a low deductible if making a claim is going to jack your rates/get you dropped, so might as well get the highest one you can afford.

rated:
kmully said:   Alright my friends, here we go:

....

6. May have missed an opportunity to truly FWF this. Buddy with wood knowledge said the long section from the roots up to our end cut point would easily be worth $500-1,000 at the mill because it is very straight and apparently good wood. But it isn't on my property... 
....
 

  
You probably couldn't get that much yourself.

Mills are always hesitant to buy from some random landowner a tree that was in a residential area.  The risk of hidden nails and whatnot reduces the potential value.  They would never use such sourced wood for laminate since even small metal pieces damage their equipment (even if they catch it in time with the metal detectors, it's still quite the disruption).

Although, it could have been worse.  I know someone who had a great oak tree, cut it up to bring to the mill, then got next to nothing for it because they cut it just 6" too short as the mill needs the logs longer than the final cut to accommodate how it's handled.

Just saying.

rated:
gatzdon said:   
kmully said:   Alright my friends, here we go:

....

6. May have missed an opportunity to truly FWF this. Buddy with wood knowledge said the long section from the roots up to our end cut point would easily be worth $500-1,000 at the mill because it is very straight and apparently good wood. But it isn't on my property... 
....

  
You probably couldn't get that much yourself...
 

Yeah, everybody has a story about how much their tree is worth, but OP got the best deal he could hope for by having someone interested in the wood come and cut it up and haul it away for nothing.  That work alone could have cost him $1,000 or more.

OP - If you have a fireplace, be sure to save a cord or two of wood for yourself.  You can rent a splitter for a half day for 50 bucks or so.

    

rated:
AbbaZabba said:   
qcumber98 said:   Green for a tree thread but it needs pics.
  This is a tree and a fence thread.  Should be ultra popular.

  Fir sure.

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