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Limb fell on house-Need Advice.

Old 12-14-2008, 08:43 AM
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Default Limb fell on house-Need Advice.

12:30 AM Friday during the ice storm a 4' diameter limb split
off of the maple tree behind the house, hit the roof and slid down
and lodged itself into the roof over the front porch. It sounded
like a freight train was going through the house. Called the insurance
company Friday AM and was told to get the tree off of the house (they
would pay) and hold on until and adjuster calls or comes by. Since then
I've left one message on the guys voice mail but not seen or heard from
him. There are 7 or 8 holes in the roof going into the attic, some bigger
than a basketball. I've had 2 contractors look at the damage and they are
both talking in the $20K range to repair. I took pictures before and after the
the tree removal.

The weather forecast beginning Monday afternoon is for rain, followed by snow,
freezing rain, sleet, etc. How long do I wait before I start covering up the holes
to prevent further damage (water intrusion) so that the adjuster can get a first
hand look at the damage?? I know I'm responsible to prevent additional damage
but I dont want to screw myself by limiting the adjusters ability to accuratley
assess the situation.
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Old 12-14-2008, 08:51 AM
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Default Re: Limb fell on house-Need Advice.

Time to buy a tarp! Just ask anyone who lived in Florida during 04.
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Old 12-14-2008, 09:49 AM
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Default Re: Limb fell on house-Need Advice.

I'd get me a tarp real quick!

Cost of a large tarp, nails, lathing and everything you need for temp repair so no more damage is done to your home is covered by your home owners insurance.

Believe me it is easier to put a good tarp up, then it is to fix sheetrock, plaster, flooring, insullation, replace plumbing and appliances.
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Old 12-14-2008, 10:15 AM
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Default Re: Limb fell on house-Need Advice.

Buy a good tarp real quick and install it with 1x2" and nails.........then bill the insurance company for the materials. They should also cover the labor costs as well as part of the claim. Keep your receipts and track of the man hours, including buying of materials.....they don't work of free, nor should you.

What insurance company are we talking here?

Don't be surprised if your insurance company doesn't cover the damage or 100% of the damage. To my understanding there is a fine line between what and what a home owner doesn't have to in regards to tree branches overhanging a building/ house. They can very easily say the accident was avoidable "if" you had properly maintained the tree....therefore no coverage. IMO DON'T cut the branch up any further then you need to and don't cut the broken limb on the tree.....unless you want to present a different image then what is already there.

All I know is I've been burned by my insurance company several years back - tree branch damage to my roof. I found it's a slippery slope, so choose your words carefully.
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Old 12-14-2008, 10:20 AM
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Default Re: Limb fell on house-Need Advice.

When you tarp it, install it with with strapping on the edges or the wind will tear it off right quick. SOme storm huh? We just got power back this morning...

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Old 12-14-2008, 10:42 AM
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Default Re: Limb fell on house-Need Advice.

What the others have said! I know it sucks, but it is the Home owners responsibility to take reasonable action to prevent further damage. Just before to document everything.
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Old 12-14-2008, 10:50 AM
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Default Re: Limb fell on house-Need Advice.

Garett - 12/14/2008 12:15 PM


They can very easily say the accident was avoidable "if" you had properly maintained the tree....therefore no coverage.
I had the tree pruned last year..$600 worth...so I think I've done my due
diligence in that respect.

I'm going to have the rest of the tree dropped ASAP, as it appears to be
completely unbalanced. If I can find enough locals who want the wood
for burning and are willing to come and get it, I figure I'll save a few bucks
over having the tree guys grind and haul. If there are any of you guys in
the Merrimac, MA area who might be interested, shoot me a PM. It's a
really, really big Maple.

Also, my contractor will be by in the AM to begin the tarping/patching process.
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Old 12-14-2008, 11:05 AM
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The "insurance restoration" contractors charge the insurance companies a fortune for their services. I'm a drywall contractor and I know what's fair and within industry standard for a general contractors fees, but those guys have quite the racket going.

Find a good roofer and a carpenter, contract it yourself, and you'll come out pretty good on the deal. When our basement flooded (broken pipe while I was out of town) I fired the restoration company after I began to feel that they were milking the situation. Upon finding out I was going to contract the project myself, the insurance company asked me what I wanted, cut a check for 65% over what I asked for, and told me to call if I needed more money. I never asked for more, but they did call several times to see how things were coming along and see if I need more. We ended up remodeling our entire lower level with the money that would've gone to the restoration contractor.

If you don't feel comfotable contracting the repairs yourself, hire a reputable local GC but stay away from the "insurance restoration" guys. Things are slow in th business and you should have no problem finding someone on short notice.
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Old 12-14-2008, 11:39 AM
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Default Re: Limb fell on house-Need Advice.

I have had several experiences with trees busting up houses. I used to run a sideline tree cutting/firewood business.

Never seen a insurance company duck payment of damage as described.

I did have one customer after several claims (4 or 5) for roof damage, due to the same tree shedding limbs, the insurance company told him to have the tree taken down or they would cancel his homeowner's policy, or not pay anymore roof damage claims (I don't remember which). Now I imagine if the guy would not have had the tree taken down after being warned, maybe then. I did get partial payment from the insurance company for the removal, and partial payment from the howme owner. So I know the insurance company helped pay for the removal.

By the way, without a doubt that particular tree was the largest tree, I had ever taken down. Nearest I can remember the home was located in an older subdivision, small homes, 10' apart. This tree was growing between 2 homes, you could stand on the roof of either home and touch the tree. 80 to 100' tall, heck it had limbs 60' off the ground that were 2' in diameter. The job cost the home owner a pretty penny. I had to rent a 70 ton crane, set it up in the street and his front yard, talk about a mess with permits, escorts, flagmen, utility service workers. Got the job done, tree on the ground with no one hurt, no property damage. Started loading the tree into dump trucks for removal, the home owner comes unglued, claims I am removing his "firewood" without paying him. Well they did have upwards of $500 of firewood in the tree, but this guy didn't even have a fireplace. His plan was to cut the tree up, split the wood, sell it and recover some of the cost of taking the tree down. After talking to this guy as sensibly as I could he saw the light. The butt end of the tree was over 6' across. He didn't even own a chain saw. I ended up getting rid of most of the trunk as it was just to large to handle with the equipment I had.

If you don't mind me saying, get rid of the tree, while the getting is good, have the tree service haul it off, be done with it. Everybody wants firewood, if it's cut and split, but very few want to put the sweat equity into it. You will just end up with a mess to clean up later. You will be busy watching/ monitoring your homes repair.

Good going on the contractor, get the temp repairs done as soon as possible.
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Old 12-14-2008, 11:44 AM
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Cousin Eddie - 12/14/2008 1:05 AM

The "insurance restoration" contractors charge the insurance companies a fortune for their services. I'm a drywall contractor and I know what's fair and within industry standard for a general contractors fees, but those guys have quite the racket going.
Ain't that the truth! I know the adjuster that came out to see my roof's damage after a limb came down - I remove the limb from the roof and sawed it up - either way the adjuster was at my house for no more the 17 - 18 minutes and the insurance company paid him over $2,700 for his time - he said no to my claim! Racket, crips I'm in the wrong business.
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Old 12-14-2008, 03:11 PM
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Default Re: Limb fell on house-Need Advice.

Garett - 12/14/2008 9:44 AM

Cousin Eddie - 12/14/2008 1:05 AM

The "insurance restoration" contractors charge the insurance companies a fortune for their services. I'm a drywall contractor and I know what's fair and within industry standard for a general contractors fees, but those guys have quite the racket going.
Ain't that the truth! I know the adjuster that came out to see my roof's damage after a limb came down - I remove the limb from the roof and sawed it up - either way the adjuster was at my house for no more the 17 - 18 minutes and the insurance company paid him over $2,700 for his time - he said no to my claim! Racket, crips I'm in the wrong business.
The first red flag was when I found out my insurance was being billed $600+ per day for the 3 fans and a dehumidifier that they left in the basement to dry it out. Second was when they told me that the back wall (walk out lower level) of the house had some rot and the house would have to be jacked so they could replace the wall.

Insurance contracts and government contracts, it's just unreal............
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Old 12-15-2008, 04:54 PM
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Default Re: Limb fell on house-Need Advice.

CJS,
I am an adjuster in New England. Tarp the roof now. Save the recpts, take photos and prevent further damage. Most carriers will pay either for you to do it or a contractor. Take pleanty of photos.
Policies from company to company vary on how coverage applies, but the big box ins cos like Liberty Mutual, Amica, Fireams etc will pay for the impact dmg to incl the direct physical dmg, and rem of the tree off the house, and up to certain policy limits to rem the tree debris offsite. Read your policy for your specific companies provisions.

The company adjusters right now are very busy due to this unexpected event, but protect you, and your property from further harm and document every step with paper and photos.
Snow is expected so if need be, board then tarp the roof to protect it. The ins co probably would frown upon you repairing the roof permanently without them having the opportunity to inspect it 1st.

Good luck.

Adendem:
For coverage to apply for trees there is a caveat: overhanging limbs are NOT covered by most if not all carriers. The reason is that there needs to be direct physical dmg to covered property 1st to trigger coverage. You as a purdent homeowner are responsible to protect house and home. If you know of impending danger, you are to take corrective action to prevent damage. IE overhanging limbs, leaning trees etc. Look at the landscaping / trees coverage paragraph in your policy. Coverage only applies for certain specified causes of loss. Fire, lightening, other vehicle dmg etc.

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Old 12-15-2008, 05:13 PM
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Can't add much to what Ackdog said but act like you don't have insurance. What would you do? The policy states that you need to do what is reasonable to protect the property. It also states that it pays for temporary repairs. If you can tarp it, do it. May even be able to work out a credit towards your deductible if you document your time doing part of the work. Try and document as much as you can but under the circumstances I don't think an adjuster is going to disbelieve that a limb went thru your roof.

Trees? Your HO policy will pay whatever it takes to get the limb/tree off the house but from there you have a sub-limit in the policy to haul it off. As far as trees that "might" smash your house, read above.

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Old 12-15-2008, 05:27 PM
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Default Re: Limb fell on house-Need Advice.

Thanks Guys - Temp patchwork is in place. The adjuster was out today.
Nice guy, and as expected busier than the proverbial one armed
paperhanger. My main concern is that the house is ~120 years old
and some details in the trim work that I know will not be readily available
in todays world. Not real intricate, but they do add to the overall
character of the house that I want to preserve. The adjuster said that
there should be no reason not to be able to restore the house to "pre-tree"
condition, so I'm hopeful. I'm not looking to make any $$$ on this. I just
want to get back to where I was.
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Old 12-15-2008, 05:45 PM
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CJS- most if not all carriers owe to have you put back to a pre loss condition with LKQ (like, kind and quality) materials. You are to be indemnified so that you should not be able to tell a tree hit the house. No more no less. As for specialty items like custom trimwork, we pay(at least my company) to have knives made so that it will match, or to rpl it all - again pre loss condition.
I am sure the adjuster will take care of you. The only thing you lose is the deductible.
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Old 12-16-2008, 08:22 AM
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CJS - 12/15/2008 7:27 AM

Thanks Guys - Temp patchwork is in place. The adjuster was out today.
Nice guy,............ The adjuster said that
there should be no reason not to be able to restore the house to "pre-tree"
condition,
Reading the above almost makes me laugh, Not! My guy too was all that, until he drove off and F#@KED ME!

Here's the minutes of my case:
- neighbor's tree - on his property.
- main body of tree leaning over into my property.
* because of "right to air" laws I have the legal right to do as I please with "any" branches overhanging my property line.
- four (4) arborists said I can NOT prune/ cut the limbs in question because it would certainly lead to the death of the tree.
- I have the legal right to prune any tree/ bush/ shrub that enters my properties air space and I have as a homeowner the obligation to prune any tree/ bush/ shrub to protect the well being of my property/ buildings/ dwelling. BUT I can only do so "IF" in doing so I do NOT kill the plant that is encroaching!
- four (4) arborists estimated the tree in question (in my situation) to be worth between 75 - 85k to replace.......expect to be sued if you kill your neighbor's tree for the removal of the fence to gain access so the dead tree can be removed, any sewer damage caused by the removal of the tree's roots, the property damage to have the tree removed, the purchase and installation of a replacement tree of like size and the cost of a new fence/ possible new sewer system............start thinking in terms of 100k law suit that I would NOT be able to win.
- solution from the four (4) arborists - move before something happens......I didn’t move before something happened.
- major branch came down on my roof.
- called insurance company.
- adjustor came out, said things would be fine, don’t worry you’ll have a new roof in no time.
- claim denied.........I put a new roof on.

I'm not saying this will happen to you CJS, but that's how it went down for me.
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Old 12-16-2008, 09:11 AM
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Garrett, if a limb came down on your roof, how and why was the claim denied?

CJS, in a past lifetime I did insurance restoration contracting and, unless things have changed, insurance companies are all too willing to write you a check for the adjuster's damage estimate. Look at the estimate and see whether there's a 20% holdback. This is the 20% overhead and profit (O&P) that insurance companies pay a GC to hire the work done. If you submit bills for materials and do the contracting out yourself, you don't get it. If you do any of the work yourself, you don't get it.
If you have a friend with a GC license, it won't cost you a dime to hire him to do the job or to oversee the job and submit his claim estimate and the bill; thus getting the 20%.
A GC has a much better chance of preparing Supplements, too. These are additions to the repair estimate that reflect hidden damage that the adjuster was unable to see. With a 120 year old house, they would include the actual cost (via written estimate) of a woodworker's producing custom trim. A number of items on an estimate are left Open because an adjuster can't know the final cost. Examples would be electrical, plumbing, custom trim, etc.
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Old 12-16-2008, 09:51 AM
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bamaboy473 - 12/15/2008 11:11 PM

Garrett, if a limb came down on your roof, how and why was the claim denied?
Why, I have no idea? All I know was the adjuster told the insurance company I should have remove the branch/ threat to avoid said damage, therefore claim denied. I even took the case to arbitration with the affidavits of the four arborists and still lost the case because I didn't have proper proof to dispute the adjusters position.....basically I had no accurate/ specific pictures of the neighbor’s tree in relationship to my property prior to the branch coming down and I had no pictures of the branch/ tree after the branch had come down. And by the time all this was going down I had already paid a tree removal company a hundred bucks to remove one other major branch over my house and I was half way done with cutting out/ down the tree (with neighbors assistance), therefore there was zero proof I could present.........who knew? I know I certainly didn’t.
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Old 12-16-2008, 10:00 AM
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Garett, was the neighbors carrier denying you coverage? If so that was correct. Your policy will cover dmg to your property.
If you had put your neighbor on WRITTEN notice that his/her tree was an impending danger to your property, and then had fallen on your property, coverage from your neighbor's ins co might have covered your claim.
If your neighbors tree damaged your house, your homeowners coverage would respond less your deductible. Then your ins co would possibly attempt to recover their money to incl your deductible from the neighbors ins co. The process is called Subrogation. Sometimes carriers are successful, sometimes not. It depends on the situation and carrier.
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Old 12-16-2008, 10:30 AM
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bamaboy473 - 12/16/2008 11:11 AM

CJS, in a past lifetime I did insurance restoration contracting and, unless things have changed, insurance companies are all too willing to write you a check for the adjuster's damage estimate. Look at the estimate and see whether there's a 20% holdback. This is the 20% overhead and profit (O&P) that insurance companies pay a GC to hire the work done. If you submit bills for materials and do the contracting out yourself, you don't get it. If you do any of the work yourself, you don't get it.
If you have a friend with a GC license, it won't cost you a dime to hire him to do the job or to oversee the job and submit his claim estimate and the bill; thus getting the 20%.
A GC has a much better chance of preparing Supplements, too. These are additions to the repair estimate that reflect hidden damage that the adjuster was unable to see. With a 120 year old house, they would include the actual cost (via written estimate) of a woodworker's producing custom trim. A number of items on an estimate are left Open because an adjuster can't know the final cost. Examples would be electrical, plumbing, custom trim, etc.
I've been using the same GC for the last 10 years. He put an addition on, remodeled a bathroom (2X's), and has done numerous other jobs. I think
I'm pretty well covered in that regard.
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