STICKy situations involving people and trees

Acorn vs Buckeye

Neighbor “Acorn” had a large, dying-to-dead tree growing near his property line with Neighbor “Buckeye.” Mr. Buckeye had expressed his verbal and written (in letter form) concern to Mr. Acorn about the tree’s stability and the threat it posed to his property. Buckeye asked Acorn to prune or remove the hazardous tree to eliminate the threat. Acorn did nothing in response.

About a year later, the tree fell and damaged Buckeye’s property much like he said it would. He had to file an insurance claim. His insurance company paid him about $8000 for assorted damages to his property, but did not compensate him for major damage to a 14″ diameter walnut tree that was hit by the falling tree.  Furthermore, he was responsible for a $1500 policy deductible.

Buckeye is mad: his property was damaged and he was stuck with a mess and the time-consuming inconvenience of arranging repairs; he now has a claim on his otherwise unblemished insurance record, which will probably affect his future premiums; he is out $1500, which represents his policy’s deductible; and, he has a severely damaged tree for which he has not been compensated and will have to pay extra to have removed due to his policy’s restrictions and limitations. Neighbor Acorn (the owner of the tree) is not out-of-pocket any money and has not been inconvenienced in any way.

Buckeye is weighing his options. He has two objectives: 1) that he be fully and fairly compensated for his loses and there be no blemish on his insurance record; 2) that he maintain a civil and peaceful enough relationship with Neighbor Acorn that neither feels threatened or compelled to move.

How would you advise Buckeye to handle this situation to meet his objectives?

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