If you think about the value of trees, you might think about the smaller benefits of having them, such as making your yard look nice or providing shade on a hot summer. But did you know that trees have a dollar value of their own?
Yes, you can put a monetary value on trees even after a tree has been taken down in an emergency, such as after a storm or high winds. You may even be able to recapture your loss through an insurance claim or as a deduction from your federal income tax.
How Can I Find Out What My Trees Are Worth?
Want to know the value of your trees? A tree care professional can use industry guidelines to determine their worth. These guidelines have been widely adopted in the field and are recognized by insurance companies, the courts, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in most cases when looking to claim a loss.
Most people might not be aware that in addition to the aesthetic functions of trees, they also serve less obvious function which contribute to their value such as:
- Summer cooling – Trees can provide shade when the sun is at its highest point, and positioned the right way through either planting or selective tree trimming, trees offer coverage to your home and contribute to lower energy costs
- Winter warming – A tree shading your home in summer is obvious, but how do trees help warm your home in winter? Deciduous trees, or trees that lose their leaves seasonally, can warm your home in winter because as the sunlight comes through the branches, it directly warms your home and reduces the need to heat your home through other means
- Sound barrier – Is your home positioned near a roadway? Having a row of trees between your home and the road reduces noise pollution
- Air conditioning – Trees can release terpenes, which are considered nature’s “climate air conditioners” and produces an albedo effect that causes more sunlight to be reflected back into space, naturally cooling the air
- Windbreak – Planting conifer trees at the north and northwest portion of a property helps to create a windbreaker and reduce the amount of harsh wind that flows around a home
- Glare control – In urban or suburban areas where there is an abundance of pavement, trees reduce glare from these surfaces which often reflect light
- Wind filtration – Often referred to as a shelterbelt, a group of trees that acts as a filter on a property such as a farm can help filter out odors
- Wind deflection – Trees bend in the wind and redirect the air upward and over the tree
- Wind obstruction – Like a windbreak, trees that obstruct the wind completely block wind from making it through the barrier
Claiming Loss or Damage to Trees
The IRS defines a casualty loss as “a loss resulting from an identifiable event of sudden, unexpected, or unusual nature.” If vandalism, a vehicle accident, or a storm suddenly destroys your tree, this may qualify as a casualty lost.
To determine if you can claim a tree’s value in a loss, you should first consult your homeowner’s insurance policy to determine the amount and kind of coverage you have. The insurance company will be able to have an appraisal made by a competent tree and landscape professional who will factor the following into his or her evaluation:
- Tree size – The size and age of a tree may mean that it is not replaceable. If a tree is too large to be replaced, it will likely affect the value of the tree after a loss
- Tree species/classification – Valuable trees are those that are hardy, durable, highly adaptive, and tree from objectionable characteristics (i.e. healthy trees). These variables will likely factor into your final appraisal
- Condition of tree – A healthy, well maintained tree has higher value and this condition will thus factor into your appraisal
- Location of tree – If your tree served a function or benefit in its location, that will play a part in the value it holds to the property