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Tree smashes Kansas City roof, insurance may not cover incident

Does your home insurance cover this?!
Posted: 6:05 PM, Jun 28, 2016
Updated: 2016-06-28 19:05:50-04

A very large, old maple tree toppled onto the roof of a Kansas City, Missouri, home early Tuesday morning and the root cause is atypical for such an event.

"Well to me it looks like carpenter ants," said Mitch Shipman, owner of Blue Beetle Termite and Pest Management.

"Carpenter ants could've been there for 20 years," he said.

Often confused with termites and hard to detect, carpenter ants are very common in the metro. They colonize trees and over several years weaken the tree's stability if untreated.

"If you see black, large ants going inside and outside of that tree, eventually there will be an issue. It may take many years. They will erode that tree ... you'll see some cracking. You'll see it start bending over and some cracking in the base of the tree," he said.

But does such an unusual event require special homeowners insurance to cover the damages? Possibly.

"The tree may have had to have been blown over by wind to have coverage under a rental property type policy," said Rick Elliott of Elliott Insurance Group in Louisburg.

According to Elliott, whether or not you pay for such damages depends on whether you live in your home or rent out the property.

According to Elliott, 

For landlords:

"If you're buying a policy you wanna buy a 'special form' policy. It's gonna give you the most likelihood of having coverage."

For homeowners who live in their home:

"In a homeowners policy...it's a different form [named perils] and it's going to cover falling objects which would include a tree, driven by wind or not."

So in short, most homeowners should have a 'named perils' policy, which should cover unique accidents, such as those caused by pests. However, if you're a landlord, you'll need to specifically ask for a 'special form.' Either way, it's best to check with your insurance agent to be safe.

Costs all homeowners are sure to be responsible for is any cleanup, as insurance does not cover the cost to cut down and haul away a tree.  

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Josh Helmuth can be reached at  josh.helmuth@kshb.com

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