How to tell if wind or lightning damages a tree, insurance adjuster will want to know.

Hurricanes and Tornados cause major tree damage. You may assume it is just from the storm and it really does not matter. A damaged tree is a damaged tree, right? ….Wrong.  You assume the beautiful oak tree that use to shade summer picnics will covered by your insurance policy….maybe yes, maybe no.

The difference on if there is coverage or not, is what exactly caused the damage.  There are ways to tell if you tree was damaged by wind or lightning.   Tree removal coverage is a separate topic. The short explanation is the tree removal cost to get the tree off your home is covered under most homeowners insurance policies.  Make sure to get a roof tarp on your roof right away if a tree damaged it.

The actual cost of the tree is a separate issue.   There is not coverage for trees, plants or shurbs damaged by wind or hail on standard insurance policies.  Wind is what damages most trees during a hurricane or tornado.  When a tree is damaged by wind, the tree tops are usually snapped in the wind, or the ground gets wet and the entire tree is blown over and the root ball is exposed. 

If the tree is damaged by lightning there is typically between $250-$1000 worth of coverage for the tree plant or shrub itself in standard homeowners insurance polices.  When lightning hits a tree the sap boils, steam is generated and cells explode in the wood, leading to strips of wood and bark peeling or being blown off the tree.  You will also many times see a burn mark in the area of the strike.  The tree can also be damaged by lightning that his nearby and damages the subsurface roots.

Most likely the tree was damaged by wind, not lightning, but it is worth looking for these signs of lightning damage in case there is some insurance coverage.  The tree might be removed before you insurance adjuster gets to your home to inspect the damage.  If you do see evidence of lightening damage to the tree make sure to take good pictures and show them to your adjuster.