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Birmingham woman shocked to be responsible for damages after neighbor’s tree falls in her yard

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – A Birmingham woman says she was shocked to learn her insurance company would have to handle damages to her yard and home after her neighbor’s tree fell onto it during recent storms.

That woman says she’s upset her insurance will have to handle the costs, but according to one insurance agent, you’re almost always responsible for your own property if it’s damaged during a storm.

“I heard a crash, a very loud crash,” said Claudine Collins while describing how she was inside her Birmingham home during a recent storm, when a tree in her neighbors yard came toppling down into hers.

That tree partially damaged Collins’ home and left a large mess, but when she called her neighbor to see when he was getting it removed, she was surprised with the answer she got.

“He called me back and said that whatever was in my yard I was responsible for,” said Collins.

According to insurance agents, when it comes to property damage during storms, that’s generally true.

“If a storm comes through and it blows over a dead tree, most of the time the insurance companies are gonna say that is the act of God – storm that actually caused it to fall,” explained Michael Oneal, an insurance agent with State Farm. “They’re probably going to group that under ‘had the wind not blown from that storm, it might not have fallen.’”

Collins says she believes that rule is unfair.

“The insurance company should not have to pay for something that I didn’t do,” Collins said.

Oneal explains just because it isn’t one neighbors fault, doesn’t mean the other one is at fault.

“I didn’t do anything to cause that tree to fall, so it’s not my responsibility. I don’t have any liability in that, and so that’s where everyone’s own homeowners insurance pays for damage that occurs to their property,” Oneal said.

Meanwhile, Collins says she’s trying to deal with the situation as best she can.

“The upfront cost, you know, you have to come out with like a $1,000 deductible,” Collins said. “Who has that?”

Oneal says it’s a good idea to meet with your agent to make sure you know what your deductibles are and what your policy is going to provide for.

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