There are some disasters you just can't prevent at your home, such as pieces of your neighbor's property falling over and smashing yours. So if your car was parked in your driveway and a neighbor's tree fell on it, who would be responsible for the damage?
While an independent insurance agent can help you get set up with the right type of car insurance for this situation, we can start by helping to answer this question. Here's a deep dive into who'd be responsible if a neighbor's tree fell down during a storm and landed on your car.
Who’s Responsible if a Neighbor’s Tree Falls on My Car During a Storm?
Technically, no one's really responsible for storms and the damage they cause. However, someone still has to file an insurance claim when your car gets smashed. So unless you could somehow prove that your neighbor's negligence caused the tree to fall, which is unlikely, you'd probably file a claim through your own insurance.
Since your homeowners insurance probably wouldn't cover your smashed car in this scenario, you'd need to have the right type of car insurance on hand. Falling objects and storm damage both require a specific type of car insurance known as comprehensive coverage, or other than collision coverage. If you had the right type of car insurance in this situation, your independent insurance agent could help you file a claim and walk you through the whole process.
Will My Car Insurance Fully Cover the Damage to My Car?
As long as you have comprehensive car insurance, your vehicle's damage would be covered up to the limits of your policy. You'd have to pay the deductible amount out of your own pocket before receiving reimbursement, however. You can adjust your car insurance limits and deductibles together with the help of your independent insurance agent before an incident like this one occurs if you're concerned about how much you might have to pay out of pocket.
What Does Car Insurance Cover?
All states have their own minimum car insurance requirements, but most states require drivers to have at least both kinds of liability insurance. In addition to comprehensive coverage, many folks also choose the following coverages when building their car insurance policies:
- Uninsured motorist coverage: This coverage protects you if you get into an accident with a driver who does not carry any or enough car insurance to reimburse you properly.
- Bodily injury and property damage liability: This coverage reimburses you for medical costs to other drivers and their passengers if you get into an accident and for repair costs to any property you damage with your vehicle, such as buildings.
- Collision coverage: This coverage reimburses the insured driver's vehicle for physical damage after a collision.
- Personal injury protection: This coverage pays for the driver’s injuries and injuries to their passengers after an accident.
Your independent insurance agent can also help you assemble a car insurance policy that will protect against incidents of falling trees from your neighbor's property and much more.
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What if My Car Doesn’t Have Comprehensive Coverage?
Insurance expert Jeffery Green said that you would normally file a claim for this type of incident through your own car insurance policy unless you didn't have comprehensive coverage. But your personal homeowners insurance is unlikely to cover the incident either way.
Do I Have to Pay the Full Amount of Damage if I Don’t Have the Right Coverage?
If you have comprehensive coverage, you'd only be responsible for covering the amount of the deductible and any damage exceeding your policy's limits. So if the total damage amount was less than your car insurance's limit and your deductible was $500, you'd pay the $500 and the remainder would be covered by your policy.
Really, there shouldn't be a case in which you'd have to pay for all the damage to your vehicle out of your own pocket if it got smashed by your neighbor's tree during a storm. However, there can be more complicated scenarios if your neighbor takes legal action.
What if the Neighbor Was Trimming a Branch from the Tree and It Fell on My Car?
If your neighbor was trimming their tree, which caused a branch to fall on your car, then it was no longer an act of nature, and you could more easily assign responsibility. But you could still file a claim through your own comprehensive auto insurance for the fallen object. Another option would be to get reimbursement through your neighbor's homeowners liability insurance since they were technically responsible for the incident.
Five Steps to Take if a Tree Falls on Your Car
Say a tree does fall on your car. No matter the exact scenario or who was responsible, there are a few steps you should always take, including:
- Contacting your agent: You should let your independent insurance agent know about the incident right away. They can advise on which type of coverage would pay for the damage and how to proceed.
- Taking photos: Get some photos of both the fallen tree or branch and the parts of your car it damaged. You'll need these to submit to insurance, and for your personal records.
- Clearing the mess: Take care of any debris that may still be on your car or in your driveway, assuming you can do this safely and without causing any more damage.
- Reviewing your coverage: Have a look at the damage and your insurance policy's deductible amount. If the potential damage is less than your deductible or close enough, you may not want to file a claim.
- Filing a claim: If the damage is enough to warrant filing a claim, get ahold of your independent insurance agent to start the process and get your car back on the road.
Your independent insurance agent can also help advise if the extent of the damage to your vehicle warrants filing a claim at all. Sometimes when damage is minimal and doesn't exceed your deductible, it's easiest to avoid the hassle because you'd have to pay the damage out of pocket anyway. But since these unexpected incidents happen more frequently than you might expect, it's relevant to consider speaking with your independent insurance agent about adding comprehensive coverage to your car insurance if you don't have it already.
Why Choose an Independent Insurance Agent?
Independent insurance agents simplify the process by shopping and comparing insurance quotes for you. Not only that, but they’ll cut through the jargon and clarify the fine print so you'll know exactly what you’re getting.
Independent insurance agents also have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best car insurance coverage, accessibility, and competitive pricing while working for you.