Even a tree limb can cause considerable damage if it falls on your car, so having an entire tree fall onto your vehicle can rack up massive repair bills. Money-conscious drivers will likely turn to their insurers for help covering the tab at the body shop, but there’s no guarantee your insurer is going to fork over money for the repairs, as your coverage depends on your policy type.
A comprehensive policy covers just about any damage -- including that caused by a fallen tree. Depending on your policy and your insurer, you’ll receive a check to help cover the cost of the repair or your insurance company will send you to one of its approved shops for the work. You’ll still be required to pay your deductible before you get work done. If you're still paying off your car, your bank almost certainly requires you to carry a comprehensive policy, so you're likely covered.
Most states require drivers to carry only liability insurance, according to Cars.com. These policies are cheaper, but for good reason: Your insurer only covers damage to other people’s property, such as when you T-bone another car at an intersection. Liability policies don’t cover damage to your car, so if you opt for the cheaper policy, you’re going to need to find an alternative way to repair or replace your car.
Some drivers incorrectly think that homeowners insurance will help foot the bill for auto repairs. Don’t waste your time trying to make a claim against a homeowner policy. Your homeowners policy -- or your neighbor’s -- only covers a structure and the stuff inside it, and doesn’t cover your car, regardless of where you parked it before the accident, according to Insure.com. Some policies, however, may pay to remove a downed tree if it blocks your driveway, however.
Making the Claim
Document the damage to your vehicle before the claims adjuster arrives. If possible, take photos or video of the tree on your car, as well as the process of removing it, Insure.com advises. While a comprehensive policy should cover most of your bills, you’ll want to apply the provisions in your policy as much as possible. Because this kind of damage isn’t caused by an accident, there should be no disputes, which can complicate your claim when multiple insurance companies must sort out who has to pay.
- Allstate: Am I Covered If a Tree Falls on My Car While It's Parked?
- NetQuote: If a Tree Falls, Will Your Insurance Company Hear Your Claim?
- Insure.com: Chain Saw Massacre - When Trees Go Down, Whose Insurance Picks Up the Tab?
- Bankrate.com: 8 Steps to Filing an Auto Insurance Claim
- Cars.com: Car Insurance Requirements by State
Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.