What should N.J. homeowners do about downed trees?

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The storm that slammed the region earlier this week unleashed winds of up to 75 miles per hour and felled thousands of trees across New Jersey.

So, who covers the clean up costs? Is it home insurance companies or do homeowners have to dip into their pockets?

Christine O’Brien is the president of the Insurance Council of New Jersey. She said most  homeowner insurance policies cover tree-inflicted damage to structures such as homes, garages, sheds and decks. If a tree falls on a car, auto insurance policies will often pay for the damage. But if the tree goes down without any damage to a structure or a car, insurance companies don’t pay for clean up.

“Your homeowners policy will not cover other damage, or just the fallen tree, the cleanup and removal of the tree, unless you have a rider or additional coverage that you paid for from the onset of when you purchased your homeowners policy,” O’Brien said.

Pete Righetti, the manager of Rich Tree Service, a company that works all over the Garden State, said since the Tuesday storm there has been a definite uptick in calls.

“Trees on houses, emergency calls, trees across the road, definitely a lot busier,” he said.

How much does it cost?

He said some jobs may be in the $800 range while others may cost $1,600 or more, depending on multiple factors, including the location of the fallen tree and whether or not it’s an emergency.

“You’ve got to take into consideration the size of the tree, the thickness, but there’s so many variables,” he said.

Righetti said each tree removal job is different but right after a storm fast action is frequently part of the mix.

“We work to get the emergency out of the way, get it off the house, get it off the car, get it out of the way so cars can pass and there’s nothing dangerous around,” he said.

  • January 11, 2024
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