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UPDATED: Apr 23, 2020
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When your car is damaged by any unexpected event, you are often concerned with getting your vehicle repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
However, when these damages occur, you may be just as concerned with determining who is at fault for the loss and who is responsible for covering the loss.
It’s important to understand how your insurance policy covers you from losses classified as tree damage, as well as how someone else’s policy may protect you if they’re responsible.
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How does your auto insurance protect you from a loss?
Choosing auto insurance coverage may seem like a daunting task, but it’s important to understand what coverage you’re choosing and purchasing before a loss occurs.
Some types of auto insurance are compulsory requirements, such as liability coverage, while others are optional coverages, such as comprehensive coverage.
Compulsory insurance requirements mean that the insurance is not optional, but it’s important to remember that the coverage protecting you from tree damage is an option coverage you must choose to purchase.
Comprehensive coverage is often referred to as “other-than-collision” coverage because it protects you from losses that are not related to a collision with another vehicle, an object, or from your vehicle flipping over during an accident.
However, collisions with an animal, such as colliding with a deer, are covered under comprehensive coverage.
Another of the ways that comprehensive coverage protects you is when a tree or tree limb damages your car. Tree limbs can fall and damage your car during a storm, due to negligence, or due to the tree’s old age.
Comprehensive coverage helps protect you from many unforeseen events, not just tree-related damages, and is often a smart choice when purchasing auto insurance.
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Where was the offending tree located?
When your car is damaged by a tree or tree limb, it’s often difficult to assign fault. Tree limbs or trees can fall and damage your car without notice, and it can be due to old age.
Damage caused by trees can be caused by trees located on your property or someone else’s property as well, which means the location of the tree may affect how coverage applies.
When the tree is located on your property, you will often need to rely on your auto insurance to restore your car to your pre-loss condition.
While you may carry a homeowner’s insurance policy, damage caused to your car is often excluded from these coverage conditions; you will need to rely on your auto insurance for coverage.
However, if the tree is located on someone else’s property, you may find coverage under their insurance coverage. In this instance, coverage for the loss would normally fall under their homeowner’s insurance, since this would be damage they caused to someone else’s property.
Before your car can be repaired or replaced by that party’s coverage, that insurance provider will often need to investigate the loss.
If the loss was caused by the other party’s negligence, such as failing to maintain or trim the tree, then the loss may be covered. However, if the loss was due to unique weather conditions, then they may not find their policyholder responsible.
If another party is not settling your claim or denies your claim since their policyholder was not negligent, then you will need to seek coverage under your auto insurance policy.
Remember to inform your provider of your loss when it occurs, even if you choose to postpone filing a claim at the time. This allows you to investigate other avenues for restoration before filing a claim under your coverage.
What should you consider before filing a claim for tree damage?
There are a few things to remember about your auto insurance and how it applies when you’re claiming a loss since these can affect your decision about pursuing a claim:
- You have to have comprehensive coverage in place
- You must pay your deductible first
- You must have adequate coverage before the incident occurs
Your comprehensive coverage often carries an insurance deductible, which is an amount of any loss you are obligated to cover; this keeps your insurance provider from absorbing the entire loss.
Your insurance provider will often remove this amount from any claim settlement you qualify for; this amount is selected at the time of your insurance policy purchase.
Comprehensive coverage only covers losses that occur after the coverage is purchased, which means you must have coverage in place before your loss occurs.
If you find that a tree limb has fallen on your car and you do not have protection in place, you may find yourself responsible for the entirety of the loss.
Remember that your policy often renews every six months or every 12 months, often referred to as semi-annual or annual renewal, and you should assess your coverage needs at this time.
If you find that your current coverage is inadequate, you may need to adjust what optional coverage you carry to better protect you from future losses.
When you experience damage to your car caused by a tree or tree limbs, you want to contact your insurance carrier to discuss your coverage.
They may advise you that your policy covers you from this loss, which means you may need to file a claim to get your car repaired or replaced.
However, you may want to talk to your provider about alternative options, since another party could be responsible due to negligence.
This responsibility occurs when the tree that damages your car is on someone else’s property, but they did not maintain it properly; if a tree limb or the entire tree damages your car, their policy may provide coverage for the loss.
During the claim process, make sure you take into consideration your deductible or any expenses before proceeding with a claim. If another party is covering the loss, you may not have any additional expenses.
However, if your policy is covering the loss, you may have a deductible to pay. If the amount of your loss does not exceed your deductible, then your insurance provider may not cover any portion of your claim.
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