I woke up the other Sunday very early in the morning to a loud crashing noise. As my wife recalls, "You know it had to be loud; it woke Kipp up. Once he gets to sleep he is like a bear in hibernation." The noise turned out to be a large limb that had fallen from our neighbors nearly century old oak tree and hit our roof.
Turned out it was daybreak. I walked outside around 5 AM to see most of the tree in the neighbors yard. The fence between our yard and the neighbors seemed to have taken most of the damage. There was a large limb that appeared it could have done some damage to my roof, but it was difficult to tell because of all the leaves and small limbs.
I was afraid it may have hit my AC unit. I walked around to the front yard to get a better look at the AC unit. The tree limbs had just missed the outdoor AC unit. So at first sight the only damage was the fence.
Later that day, after church and lunch, we see the neighbors out cutting limbs from the tree. I walked over to check if any damage had been done to their backyard. "Hey Kipp did you see what happened to our tree?"
Yes I was seeing if you guys fared OK. Molly (pet dog) was not out when it happened was she?
"No, no. We did not know it happened until we woke up to let her out. It destroyed our old deck, but we were planning to replace next weekend anyway. Nothing that cannot be repaired. We walked over and checked your house Kipp and it looks OK. We cut the limbs from around your AC unit, looks like it is fine."
She went on to tell me about how she had already called her insurance guy. He told her she was not responsible for paying for any damages to my property. But the more she talked she finally said "on the other hand we like you Kipp; if you have any damages we will pay for them." I told her that was nice of her. We have a guy working on the roof now, I will let you know what he finds and what he charges. She tells me this is not the first time she has had to deal with a fallen limb from this tree. She was telling me how rude the neighbors behind became after a limb fell into their pool. "Kipp they were just so rude about it, I refused to pay for any damages."
We did some chit chatting about the guy working on my roof, who she knew. The guy that recommended him to me, she knew. We were getting pretty involved in conversation about the people we both knew when I noticed her grumpy life partner went inside. I was there another 15 or 20 minutes chatting it up. The life partner did not return.
I called my insurance agent when I got back to my house just to check on protocol. He asked me a few questions: "Did the wind cause the tree to fall?" Not that could tell; I was asleep. "Was the tree diseased?" Have not seen the tree doctor over there lately; no. "Then any damage incurred to your property will be your responsibility. She is not responsible for paying you for damages." I thought...whew I am glad she told me she would.
...about two weeks later...
The tree removal and fence repair was completed on her side. All the repairs to my roof were complete. My roof guy added an extra $100 to the entire bill for the repairs he had to perform due to the falling tree. I walked over again on a Sunday afternoon to give the report of the damages and the charges.
I knocked on the door which started Molly barking. House dogs are better than a doorbell. My friendly neighbor answered the door. "Hey Kipp" as she is holding Molly back barely opening the door.
Hey what's going on with you?
"Making some blackberry jelly this afternoon. What's going on?"
I will not keep you long, I started explaining as she is trying to keep the dog inside the house with her foot, I just wanted to let you know Mr. Roofer had to make some repairs to the roof shingles and the like from the tree falling. His charges for the repairs came up to $100.
"You will have to call your insurance company and take that up with them, bud."
Slightly stunned at the change of heart and being moved from 'We like you' to 'Rude' status on the neighbor scale, I responded cross eyed with the first thing I could think of, OK...did uh...did you get your backyard taken care of?
"I paid my $1,400 in deductibles for over $3,000 worth of damages, but we got it cleaned up." Then she closed the door.
There it was. The WOOSH sound of the carpet being pulled out from under my feet. There was no good bye, see you later, go away before my partner sees you over here again, nothing. She was the one that gave me the song about how much she liked us. We were the best neighbors on the street. We had not demanded she pay for the damages like the other neighbor. We had not given them any trouble since we moved in. She was sorry the tree fell. She was willing to pay for damages. I thought she was being sincere. I had envisioned us chatting again for a few minutes then as she went to get her checkbook I would tell her not to worry about it. We were having some work done anyway, the roofer guy was here, do not worry about it. It was nice of you to offer but you don't have to pay for the damages. Then it hit me.
The life partner. The life partner must not like me. It had to be the partner that made her change her mind. She was doing this because the life partner must have been hiding behind the door. She probably was watching the whole episode. My sweet chatty neighbor friend was probably scared of what she might do if she did not run me off. Dang it!
As I walked across their driveway, behind their vehicles, a few steps into my yard, in my dazed state I nearly walked into the large tree in my front yard...my mind jump started. I thought if I understand insurance companies correctly, if a tree in my yard falls (not due to wind or disease) on a neighboring property, I am not responsible for any damage it causes. Hmmmm. It is still Sunday. "Lord, this is Bud. I have a request..."