Ask Angi: How to handle emergency tree service

Storms and high winds can cause tree damage that needs to be addressed immediately, but don't skip checking licensing and qualifications. (Dreamstime/TNS)
Storms and high winds can cause tree damage that needs to be addressed immediately, but don't skip checking licensing and qualifications. (Dreamstime/TNS)

When storms roll in, damage trees and drop heavy branches in your lawn, you need to address the problem as quickly as possible. This is even more important if a storm-damaged tree poses an imminent threat to your home or property (or someone else’s!)

Experts recommend you follow three steps when storms cause tree damage:

1. Make sure everyone in the house and around it is safe.

2. Contact your insurance company for guidance. Your agent can explain how your policy covers tree damage and if they have specific steps you must take to be covered.

3. Contact a tree service company to do the work as quickly as possible.

Even if you don’t have a fallen tree, you could have a dangerous situation when a storm hits. Once high winds have died down, take a walk around your property and inspect the trees for telltale signs of damage. Check carefully for dead wood, deep splits in the bark, signs of decay and weakened branches. If you see something that concerns you, contact a professional.

Fortunately, many tree service companies offer emergency service and 24-hour phone lines, so you should be able to reach someone quickly. Different states and cities have their own regulations regarding who can work on trees, and some areas have no regulations at all. Make sure whoever you hire holds all the licensing needed to do this work. In an emergency, it can be tempting to hire the first person who returns your call. But with trees and branches, a poorly executed job can be more dangerous than no job at all.

In addition, accreditation with the International Society of Arboriculture or the Tree Care Industry Association demonstrates a company or individual who takes their work seriously.

Most tree removal jobs cost between $400-$1,200. Larger and more complicated jobs might come closer to $2,000. Several factors will impact this cost. Tree size is the most important, followed by how much space your pro has to work. If they have to work around nearby power lines or close to the home, it will take longer to complete the job.

This cost doesn’t always include stump removal, which can run between $100-$400 on its own.

Of course, depending on the problem, you might not need to remove the tree entirely. If a tree has been seriously damaged but remains standing, a tree professional can reinforce it with bracing or carefully trim damage to preserve the tree’s main body.

One more thing: Insurance and legal liability can get extremely fuzzy when a tree or branch falls from one property into a neighbor’s yard. In many cases, the property owner where the tree actually landed might be liable for damages and removal unless the tree fell due to negligence on the part of the property owner. When this happens, talk to your insurance company immediately so they can help you sort out the matter.

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