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Assessing Financial Loss of Damage to Trees

Following a hurricane or other strong storm you may need to assess structural damage to property caused by a storm. You may also want to calculate the financial loss of damage to trees and other landscaping.

The value of damaged trees can be estimated by:

1. The determination of the decrease in the fair market value of the property as a result of the storm. Decrease in fair market value is calculated in two ways:
appraisals immediately before and after the storm (the best proof of a decrease in fair market value);

or

deducting the cost of clean-up, repair, or replacement from the before-storm fair market value if the repairs are necessary to restore the property to its condition before the storm, and the value of the property after the repairs does not, as a result of the repairs, exceed the value of the property before the storm.
2. The amount of insurance or other compensation received.
3. The calculation of the pre-storm value of the tree(s) following procedures set by the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers. This will require the use of an International Society of Arboriculture-Certified Arborist, urban forester or landscape architect.
You may wish to contact the IRS to determine what other methods are currently being used to evaluate tree value. If you decide to pursue claims or deductions, you must prove that the loss was sustained due to the storm and that the amounts claimed as loss are deductible. Record keeping is important in substantiating your claims.

Specifically, be prepared to show:

1. The nature of the damage and when it occurred.
2. That the loss was the direct result of the storm.
3. That you are the owner of the property.
4. The costs of property proven by purchase contracts, deeds, etc.
5. Value before and after the storm.
6. The amount of insurance or other compensation received or recoverable.

Tips

1. Photographs of the property before and after the damage help show the condition and value of the property prior to the storm.
2. Local newspaper articles complete with dates and the newspaper’s name serve as evidence of the storm, its time and location.
3. Appraisals are the most desirable tools for establishing values before and after causalities.
4. Keep repair and replacement receipts for claims.