As first responders continue search and rescue operations, the Mississippi Insurance Department is preparing to set up Mobile Claims Assistance Centers.
Thousands of trees damaged property. Some are left wondering who's legally responsible when a neighbor's tree damages their belongings.
In the wake of the deadliest outbreak of twisters in nearly 40 years, trees smashed roofs, cars even killed people in Mississippi. Generally, if the tree was damaged by a storm, you are responsible for the portion that lies on your property and you should be covered under your own homeowner's policy for the damage and removal of debris.
Take a massive tree in Madison off Hoy Road. A tree reported to be the second oldest water Oak in the county. "I don't know how they are going to cut a tree that's 40 feet in circumference with a chain saw. I don't think they have chain saws that big."
The massive Oak blew down Tuesday morning..cleanup took 7 hours according to the homeowner. According to neighbor Robin Robertson, "It sounded like an explosion. I said what in the world, a transformer is blown or something."
By the same precedent, if your tree gets blown onto your neighbor's property the same applies; his home insurance would cover him. A pine slammed into a Ridgeland home's backyard Tuesday morning. It was located on someone else's property.
The State Insurance Department tells us if a tree was previously damaged, diseased or rotten, the property owner "could be held liable for failing to take necessary measures to remove the risk before a storm takes down the tree." In this case experts say, if you had notified your neighbor in writing warning of potential damage to your property, you have put them on notice.
It's best to ask to have the tree trimmed or removed due to a dangerous condition. Then your neighbor may be liable for damages to your property. Insurance experts say be sure you take photos. Keep them with a copy of the letter notifying your neighbor of your concerns in advance of mother nature's wrath.
Search and rescue is a priority at this time and as soon as Mississippi Insurance Department personnel are allowed into affected areas, the MID will be setting up Mobile Claims Assistance Centers.
For more information, contact these MID sources: consumer toll free assistance hotline 1-800-562-2957.
Insurance company 800 disaster claim numbers go to: www.mid.state.ms.us
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