Who pays what for debris removal?

Striking visuals of the tornado activity across the South this spring were amazing. Neighborhoods and business districts suddenly were transformed to piles of scattered rubble, officially known as debris.

So begins an ongoing discussion between homeowners, rental property owners, business owners, their insurers and local government. Who is to do what? Who pays for the removal? How much cost does insurance cover? What's the responsibility of local government?

These are questions to a lesser or greater extent not just with tornadoes, but also with residential and business fires, explosions, the aftermath of flooding, plane crashes and earthquakes, just to name a few.

The Insurance Information Institute says if a tree hits a home or other insured structure, such as a detached garage, standard home-owners insurance policies provide coverage for the damage the tree does to the structure and the contents in it.