Updated: Dec 2, 2020
I love trees. I don't know where that love stemmed from, but I can spot a gorgeous oak tree with barely a glance. It's just something about them that attracts my attention. To me, there isn't anything prettier in nature than a mushroom shaped oak tree. The four in my front yard don't have the best shape, but they are still beautiful. Maybe it's because trees have so much age, or maybe it's their size. I don't know, but I think trees are a brilliant work of God's art. Insurance companies would disagree.
Regardless of how pretty they can be, anything that weighs several tons and looms over the top of a $100,000+ investment has some ugliness to it. And that's exactly what our homeowners insurance company sees when it comes to trees.
They see a claim in the near future. They see wind or ice and then a damaged roof. They may see the beauty in it, but they also see the beast. And the beast can cost more money than the value of the beauty.
Shingles alone on a 1400 sq/ft house can run $5,000. Put a branch through that roof, or even worse, lay a tree down on that house, and the claim amount increases significantly.
Which leads most of us to this question: why won't my home insurance policy pay to have a tree trimmed in order to avoid a large claim?
Sounds legit to me. The only problem is that's considered taking responsibility off the customer and placing it in the hands of the insurance company.
House insurance isn't responsible for preventing damage. It's responsible for repairing damage.
An insurance company's way of preventing damage is by setting standards for who they'll accept as customers. Not everyone makes it. Not every house qualifies. They want low risk. High risk is not profitable.
Show me a house with a large tree leaning over the roof, and I'll show you a red flag to insurance companies. But what about currently insured houses with trees that have grown and overhang a roof?
That's where random inspections come in. We know trees will grow. We know property will change shape. Things age, and as trees age they become more hazardous. A homeowners insurance company will nonrenew our policy before it cuts down our tree.
The ONLY TIME an insurance company will pay to remove a tree is if it's fallen and blocking an entry to the house or driveway. And they don't pay to have it cut up & hauled off, just moved out of the way.
Think about all that insurance could pay for to decrease the likelihood of a claim: i.e. porch railing, new water lines for dishwasher, washing machine, or toilets, new hot water heaters, etc.
Whether they're paying to prevent a claim or paying to repair a claim, they're still paying.
A homeowner's job is to prevent damage. An insurance company's job is to repair it when it can't be prevented.