If a tree has ever fallen on your car, you know that the limbs and trunk can cause severe damage. When you face thousands of dollars in repairs, you must know how much your auto insurance policy will pay to cover the cost of those damages.
Depending on the tree’s location, you may not be liable for the fallen tree. For example, if the tree belonged on your neighbor’s property but fell onto your vehicle, your neighbor’s insurance would pay for the damage.
Tree damage falls under premises liability. Premises liability means the property owner is at fault due to allowing dangerous conditions, lack of tree maintenance, or other reasons.
Here, we discuss several types of fallen tree damage and explain who has to pay in which situations.
Types of Fallen Tree Damage
If you usually park your car outside, you risk damage from debris and falling objects. Falling trees in heavy wind and storms are one of the leading causes of property damage.
You can sustain five types of fallen tree damage to your vehicle, including:
1. Hitting a Fallen Tree in the Road
While you can get coverage for hitting a tree that’s lying in the road, it’s different from your vehicle getting hit by a falling object. When you run into a tree, insurance companies consider it a collision.
For coverage in events like these, you need to have collision insurance. Otherwise, insurance does not cover the damages because it’s your responsibility to look out for objects on the road. You can’t avoid falling objects, whereas insurance considers stationery obstacles to be avoidable.
2. Your Tree Falls on Your Car
If a tree in your yard falls on your car, you will have to pay the deductible from your insurance. However, because of premises liability, you may not receive help from your insurance, as the health of any trees on your property is your responsibility.
If you notice an old tree with decaying branches on your property, call a professional arborist to inspect it. They can remove the tree and help you avoid this type of damage.
3. Your Tree Falls on Your Neighbor’s Car
If your tree falls on your neighbor’s property, you may be liable. If the insurance company can prove negligence or that you knew the tree was a hazard and didn’t do anything, they will not cover the damages, and you may have to pay out of pocket. If your neighbor makes a claim with your insurance company, the company will likely dispute it.
4. Your Neighbor’s Tree Falls on Your Car
If a neighbor’s tree or its branches fall on your car, your neighbor must pay for the repairs. However, you must have proof that your neighbor knew about the tree decaying or that someone warned them about it. If you have no proof, the two insurance companies will dispute the claim.
5. A City-Owned Tree Falls on Your Car
If a city-owned tree from a park or other public space falls on your car, you should call your local government authority. They will then have someone come and remove the treen. If they knew that the tree was a hazard, they must pay for your damages.
How to Handle Tree Damage with Insurance Companies
If you are involved in an accident involving a tree falling on your car or your tree falling on someone else’s vehicle, document everything. That includes taking photos of the tree on the vehicle and documenting the state of the tree before it fell.
Next, file a claim with your insurance company. Ask the agent or claims representative how you can streamline the process to resolve it quickly.
Share the photos of the tree on the vehicle with the insurance company. Lastly, call a local arborist to remove the tree and have your car towed. Working with the insurance company’s preferred body shop can help to speed up the process.
Ideally, you can store your car in a garage to keep it safe from tree damage. If you don’t have a garage, add comprehensive coverage to your auto insurance policy.
In the aftermath of a tree falling on your car, you must ascertain who is responsible for filing the claim on their insurance. If you take the blame, you could face a higher premium as your insurance will count the event against you. Even though your deductible will help to cover the costs of repairs, you don’t want to claim liability if it wasn’t your fault.
If you need to resolve premises liability after an accident, reach out to our personal injury attorneys at Dame Legal at 201-231-7580.