Insurance Claims When a Tree Falls on Your Car

Fallen tree laying on top of a car will lead to an insurance claim
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Maybe you were parked underneath a tree on a stormy night. Or perhaps you left your car parked outside for a long time and came back to find a tree or large branch reclining on your vehicle. Either way, the result is just as unpleasant: if a tree falls on your car, it is definitely not good news.

If you recently encountered a tree smashing your car, you are probably wondering whether your insurance will cover the damages. If you have your state’s minimum coverage, you are probably out of luck. Liability insurance will not cover an “act of God,” as it is known, or in this case, an act of a tree. The only way your car insurance will cover a tree that has fallen on your car is by purchasing comprehensive insurance coverage before the damage occurs.

Key Takeaways

  • If you only have minimum coverage on your car, your insurance likely won't cover damage caused to your car by a tree.
  • Comprehensive coverage will repair damage to your car caused by a fallen tree as well as hail.
  • If you collide with a fallen tree while driving, the damage will be covered by your collision coverage insurance.
  • The best protection for your vehicle is storing it in a garage; if you don't have that option, you may want to consider comprehensive coverage.

Types of Fallen Tree Damage

Parking your car outside on a regular basis leaves your car susceptible to storm damage. A major contributor to property damage is falling trees during heavy wind and snowstorms. Comprehensive coverage will repair damages to both fallen trees due to wind and snow, plus other forms of storm damage such as hail damage. But parking your car underneath a carport or inside a garage is a good way to avoid this damage in the first place.

Dead trees often become falling trees after a long period of time. Sometimes while driving down the road, a large tree limb or an entire tree can come crashing down. Anytime your car is hit by a falling object, comprehensive coverage will cover the cost of repairs on your vehicle, minus your deductible.

Hitting a Fallen Tree on the Road

Hitting a tree that has already fallen on the road is handled differently from having a tree fall on top of your vehicle. Hitting a tree that is lying on the road is considered a collision. Collision coverage will need to be listed on your car insurance policy in order for your insurance company to pay for repairs. Your deductible will apply, unless you have been racking up a reduced deductible with a vanishing deductible option. What is the difference between a tree falling on your car and your hitting one that is lying in the road? It is always your responsibility to be looking for obstacles on the road, and you ought to be able to stop without a collision. Falling objects are often unavoidable, which is what makes it covered by comprehensive insurance.

How Do I Handle Tree Damage With My Insurer?

Make sure to take lots of photos and document everything! Then, file the claim with your insurance company. Ask your insurance agent or the claims representative what you can do to speed up the claims process. Most companies allow you to take photos of the tree on the vehicle so work can begin to remove the tree and possibly have the vehicle towed. It is recommended to use your insurance company's preferred body shop to speed up the process even more.

Clearly, a tree falling on your car can cause a lot of damage. The best protection for your vehicle is storing it in a garage. Of course, it is not always possible. If you frequently park outside near trees, definitely consider adding comprehensive coverage to your car insurance policy so you will be protected against a loss.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A neighbor's tree fell on my car. Who pays for damages?

Whether it's your neighbor's tree, a city-owned tree, or a tree in your work's parking lot, it will probably be considered an "act of God" by your insurance company. However, if you can show negligence on the part of the tree's owner, then you may be reimbursed for the cost of repairs. For example, if you can prove that your neighbor ignored a dead, rotting tree for weeks before a branch fell on your car, then you may be able to get them to cover the damages.

Is a car likely to be totaled after getting hit by a falling tree?

A car may or may not be totaled after a tree falls on it; it all depends on the cost of repairs. States differ slightly in their definitions, but cars are generally considered totaled when the cost of repairs is nearly as much as the actual cash value of the car. If a large branch breaks through the roof of an older car, then that car is probably totaled. If a small branch cracks the windshield of a brand new car, then that car probably isn't totaled.

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