Tree Hazard Checklist

Take these steps before a casualty loss to your trees or landscape plants. If you need to file an insurance claim, you will have the necessary information.

  1. Plan trees and shrubs in your landscaping for both beauty and functional value.
  2. Protect and preserve your trees and shrubs to maintain their value.
  3. Take pictures of your trees and landscape plants now while they are healthy and vigorous. Having “before” photos makes “before and after” comparisons easier and will expedite insurance claims processing.
  4. Check your insurance policy. In most cases, loss for any one tree or shrub is limited to $500.
  5. Keep accurate records of your landscape appraisals and real estate appraisals. These will provide helpful information in the event of the loss of any of your trees or shrubs.
  6. Consult a certified arborist familiar with South King County and Pierce County trees and shrubs at every stage of life – planning, planting, care, and when a casualty strikes. Consulting with a certified arborist can reduce your risk of suffering needless financial loss if a casualty strikes.


Use this watch list to spot and address potential hazards before injury or property damage occurs.

1. Hazardous Trees and Utility Lines
Trees falling onto utility lines can have serious consequences. People and property near the lines are at risk. A tree or branches hitting a utility line may cause power outages, surges, fires, and other damage.

2. Topped Trees
Topped trees present several serious hazards. Topped trees are

  • Prone to disease which weakens them
  • Are often top-heavy due to excessive crown re-growth
  • Commonly have upper branches that are weakly attached and thus susceptible to breaking during windy or snowy weather
  • May have decay or rot present in old wounds

    3. Tree Signs to Watch For

    • A trunk that has developed a strong lean
    • Adjacent trees that have fallen
    • Cavities or rotten wood along the trunk or in major branches
    • Cracks or splits in the trunk or where branches are attached
    • Detached branches hanging in a tree
    • Large dead branches in a tree
    • Leaves that have prematurely developed an unusual color or size
    • Many major branches arising from one point on the trunk
    • Roots that are broken off, injured, or damaged by a lowering soil level, installing pavement, repairing sidewalks, or digging trenches.
    • A site recently changed by construction, raising the soil level, or installing lawns.
    • Trees in adjacent wooded areas were removed
    • Trees recently topped or heavily pruned

    A certified arborist can evaluate your trees and provide recommendations to minimize hazards to protect people, property, and your trees. You’ll learn how to improve the health of your trees, which trees may pose hazards, and what actions to consider.

    Have Concerns? Our Certified Arborist Can Outline Your Tree Risks and How to Minimize Them

    Contact us for a no-charge onsite evaluation and estimate if you have concerns about trees or tree branches on your property.

    Know what to watch for to avoid losses to people, trees, and property