I started writing this post 24 hours after, but the mere fact that it’s now the weekend should tell you what kind of week it’s been. It’s been really tough.
On Monday night/Tuesday morning, I woke up as Neil was dragging me down the hall toward the basement. The house was shaking and debris was hitting the windows. The power went out as we waited in the basement, and for a good 10 minutes I thought we would lose windows from all the pressure. After what seemed like forever, the storm died down, and Neil and I put on head lamps and went upstairs to what felt like a movie scene.
Even though it was dark, we immediately noticed the outline of the neighborhood looked different. we peeked out and focused our headlamps on various parts of the yard and saw that the storm had completely blown over a good portion of the large, mature trees in the neighborhood. They were everywhere: on power lines, cars, fences, sheds, and even houses. Some had even been carried quite a distance away. We went to the bedroom, and with our headlamps caught the outline of an odd shape in the backyard. Our largest tree had completely uprooted and toppled into the neighbor’s yard, creating a domino effect and taking several more trees with it! Stunned, we called insurance to start the claims process and tried to go back to sleep.
It wasn’t until morning that we knew the extent of the damage. Almost all of our trees were down, and many of those still standing were damaged beyond repair. In all, only one tree in our front yard, and two in the back made it out unscathed. We also sustained damage to the roof and siding.
The worst news came 24 hours later when we were informed that our State Farm homeowners insurance does not cover tree removal. Even if it hit our house, they would cover repairs to the house (I’m skeptical), but not the removal or disposal of the tree. That’s pretty common apparently, but we were still stunned, as an initial estimate to remove them came in at over $20k. In addition, they would not cover the roof, saying the damage could be “patched” (below our deductible) and that they weren’t responsible for the leaking/water because the last patch job they advised instead of total repair (done by COMO Premium Roofing, a vendor they approved and recommended) was done incorrectly. It felt like we were being recommended a new roof, but in a roundabout way being told we should pay for it. Awesome. We’ll try appealing, but I’m not optimistic. When did wanting a roof that doesn’t leak and isn’t defective or damaged become an outrageous request?
The adjuster also said we weren’t legally liable for our neighbors yard and shouldn’t feel obligated to help them. Doesn’t their motto begin “like a good neighbor…”? Apparently that’s just a gib. I told him quite flatly that’s not the way we were brought up, nor how we value community. He said this as people were arriving to voluntarily help us clean OUR yard. People who, because we weren’t helped by insurance, saved our asses. I had to leave the room before my hormonal pregnancy “Hyde” showed up.
Progress as of this morning…
As I mentioned above, we were so SO fortunate that friends, CrossFit family, and even people we didn’t know came, and together, we were able to clear all the loose debris from the yard, as well as the neighbor’s yard (they are in France) and take down a lot of the trees. Since our power remained out for close to 4 days, my parents graciously took us in. People have sent us meals, gift cards and notes of encouragement. We were completely shocked by the outpouring of support. We will certainly be paying this forward for years to come.
In all, only 4 trees will require professional assistance to mitigate, a far cry from where we started. It’s heartbreaking how different our yard and neighborhood look, but hopefully in time, it will begin to look normal again. For now, I am relieved that Kaitlan will come home to a clean, safe home.
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Wow! What a crazy and scary story. I’m so glad it had a good ending. You’re lucky to have such an awesome community of friends and neighbors to help you out. <3
Very lucky. I don’t know where we’d be otherwise. It would have been Neil and I out there trying to do it ourselves, desperate.
Jessica – I happened across your blog several years ago. I’m a neighbor on Crestland and I was so saddened to see the devastation of the trees in our neighborhood. I saw the article about your work party in the Missourian and your difficulties with your insurance company. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to reach out to the Missouri Department of Insurance to see if there is anything they can help you out with in regard to an appeal. Their number is 800-726-7390. Also, if you’re shopping for other insurance and want to take a look at the policy language, you can find sample policies on the Department’s website – see http://www.insurance.mo.gov. Best of luck to you.
Amy, thank you for this resource! We just started the appeals process, but this is a great avenue for us to reach out to should this fail. At this point, we’re just wanting fair coverage and fair assessment for the roof because of resale and leaking issues from previous patches that they advised. I hope we get to meet soon!
Same thing happened to some friends here in Kansas City with a different carrier. My understanding is that insurance covers the actual building structures or vehicles. If a tree is blown over and does not damage either a building structure or a vehicle insurance is not liable. I believe also that if your tree fell on your neighbors house, your insurance wouldn’t cover that, instead your neighbor would have to file a claim against their insurance.
Well and it gets sticky carrier to carrier when it falls on said structure and remains there. Many providers won’t cover the removal of tree from house, just the damage to he house (maybe). Also, structures that improve the value of your home (fences, sheds, decks etc) are not always covered, as is the case with our poor neighbors.