Storms that bring strong winds can cause a lot of damage to trees, which can then damage vehicles. Heavy, wet snowfalls can also break tree branches and bring them crashing down on whatever lies below. If your vehicle gets damaged by a falling tree branch, whether insurance pays for the damage depends on the types of auto insurance coverage you have.
What Comprehensive Auto Insurance Covers
If you included comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance policy, your auto insurance will help pay to repair the damage or to replace your vehicle if it was totaled. Even if the limb fell from a neighbor's tree, you need to file an insurance claim with your own auto insurer if you have comprehensive coverage. An auto insurance policy that only provides liability and collision coverage won't be any help.
Unlike auto liability insurance that is required by law, comprehensive insurance is an optional coverage that increases your premium. However, it covers losses involving your vehicle that aren't the result of a collision. Comprehensive insurance helps pay to repair damage to your vehicle caused by vandalism, fire, animal-related accidents, storm damage, and falling objects, including falling trees or tree limbs.
When Home Insurance Enters the Picture
In a case where a storm brings down a tree or a huge branch crashes through your garage roof and onto a vehicle parked inside, you will need to file multiple insurance claims. Your home insurance will cover the damage to your garage roof, and your comprehensive auto insurance will cover the damage to your vehicle. Even when the damage is caused by a neighbor's tree, you need to file insurance claims with your own insurer.
When Poor Tree Maintenance Is an Issue
If the limb fell from an aging, decayed, or diseased tree on the property next door, you may be able to prove negligence on your neighbor's part. Insurance companies generally regard tree hazards a maintenance issue that can help prevent damage to either the homeowner's property or that of a neighbor.
In that case, your neighbor may be responsible for paying for the damage to your vehicle, especially if you've pointed out the potential risk in the past. After paying your claim, your insurance company may then try to collect for the damages from your neighbor's insurance company.
How to Know When to File a Claim
Regardless of whether the fallen branch came from a tree on your property or the property of a neighbor, estimate the cost to repair the damage before submitting an insurance claim. When you consider that filing a claim may raise your premium, it can cost you more in the end. Also, it won't help you any if the repair costs are less than or barely exceed the deductible you pay.
To learn more, contact an insurance agency like Ahlquist Insurance.