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Check your contractor, insurance in aftermath of windstorm damage

December 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
With trees down in dozens of neighborhoods, homeowners everywhere are anxious to hire work crews to cut up those limbs and branches and haul it all away. But a word of caution: Hiring the wrong people could actually do more harm than good.

Pasadena Gardening and Tree Service worked until nightfall Thursday and planned to begin again at dawn Friday. "Busy" is just too simple a word for their business right now.

"I haven't seen this much since I've been in business for about 35 years now, this is the biggest wind storm we've had yet," said John Lampasona, Pasadena Gardening and Tree Service.

In fact, very few San Gabriel Valley residents, if any, have ever seen so many down trees and other damage from winds.

"I've lived in Pasadena for over 50 years. Never seen anything like this," said Lampasona.

Cleaning up includes moving trees -- lots of trees, especially those on power lines. The cost of removing those trees on an emergency basis is about $1,500.

Chances are insurance will pay for it. But if trees were trimmed earlier, the cost would have only been about $300, and there would likely not have been any damage, or loss of the tree.

But what can really cost you is hiring an unlicensed crew to do the job. And then they get hurt on your property, they usually don't have liability insurance.

"We're totally covered, up to $2 million bondage," said Lampasona.

And first of all, your homeowners insurance policy won't pay for an unlicensed contractor, and it certainly won't cover a lawsuit if the unlicensed contractor does get hurt in your yard and sues you.

If you have wind damage, your homeowner's insurance policy will probably cover you for all the damages, but it may not cover for the tree removal. So that's something that you're going to have to check with your insurance agent about.

If your automobile is damaged, then your automobile insurance should cover that damage.

And if you're wondering why tree branches are still there and haven't been taken away, that's because in areas with so many trees down, they have to get rid of all the trees first that are laying on power lines so they can get the power back up.


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