Does Auto Insurance Cover Damage From a Fallen Tree?
Last Updated on May 6, 2021
It happens more often than you think. Maybe lightning strikes a tree and knocks it down. Maybe a windstorm breaks off an old branch. Or maybe, you just haven’t cut down that dead branch hanging over the driveway yet, and now it repays you by dropping on top of your car.
Falling trees or branches can cause a lot of damage to an automobile. In some cases, if the tree is big enough and it’s a direct hit, it can total your vehicle.
Are trees and branches that fall on your car covered under your auto insurance policy?
The simple answer is yes, it’s covered, but only if you have comprehensive coverage.
The two main types of insurance coverage that protect your own vehicle are collision and comprehensive coverage.
These coverage types are almost always optional, and they are usually the most expensive part of an auto insurance policy (especially collision coverage).
The coverage that is required by law is liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage. Liability coverage pays money to other people who have damages that you are responsible for.
The only time that comprehensive and collision might be required is when you are financing your vehicle. The financing company usually requires people to carry full coverage on their car, at least until the loan is paid off.
What Do Collision and Comprehensive Mean Exactly?
Collision coverage is much more specific in what it covers than comprehensive coverage. Collision covers your car specifically for vehicle-to-vehicle crashes and crashes with solid objects.
So, this means that if you are driving and you crash into a tree, then you need to have collision coverage for your insurance to pay for your damages.
If you first crash into a tree, which causes damage to just your bumper, but then a branch falls onto your roof causing greater damage, the entire claim would fall under collision coverage.
How Claims Work
Insurance claims almost always get filed under the first cause of loss that happens. Since your collision with the tree happen first and caused the branch to fall, this is a collision claim.
The same rule applies to home insurance claims as well.
If water gets into your basement and causes a short circuit on your electrical panel, which causes a surge and a fire on the stove, and then your kitchen burns, this claim would only be paid if you have water backup coverage on your homeowner’s insurance policy.
Even though you are covered for fire, it was the water that caused the fire, so you would need to be covered for water backup, which is always a separate coverage.
All About Comprehensive Coverage
Comprehensive coverage covers almost everything non-collision-related. The only things that aren’t covered by comprehensive are wear & tear and war-like situations.
The most common comprehensive claims are:
- Glass breakage
- Falling objects, such as trees and branches
Both comprehensive and collision coverage have deductibles that you can select. A deductible is an amount of money that you agree to cover in the event of a claim. In a claim situation, the insurance company will simply pay you whatever amount they’ve settled on, and then subtract your deductible from that final amount.
You can have different deductibles for each coverage, although most people tend to select the same number. The deductible amounts vary for each company, but the most common options are $100, $250, $500, and $1,000.
This is important because if the fallen tree or branch barely hits your car and just damages a tire with minor scratches to your car, the estimate to fix this might not be higher than your deductible.
If you have a $500 deductible and the estimate to fix your car is $600, you might not want to turn the claim in. Although you have Comprehensive coverage and the fallen tree or branch is covered, you would only be collecting $100 from the insurance company to fix it. ($600 claim minus $500 deductible = $100 claims check).
That $100 probably isn’t worth it, considering each claim you file with your company will likely result in some type of premium increase at your next renewal.
Are Collision and Comprehensive Coverage Required?
Most states in the United States have minimum auto liability coverage requirements. Some even have uninsured motorist coverage requirements and personal injury protection requirements. No state, however, has any collision or comprehensive coverage requirements.
If you aren’t financing your car, then buying comprehensive and collision coverage is optional. An option that some people choose is to just buy comprehensive coverage, but not collision coverage.
The main purpose of doing this is to save money on their premiums. Collision coverage is almost always more expensive than comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage also has a much broader scope of coverage and covers more things that are completely out of our control.
The strategy here is that people with safe driving histories might assume they won’t be involved in a crash with another car, but they still want protection from unforeseeable things, such as falling trees and branches.
Final Word – Will Auto Insurance Pay if a Tree Branch Falls on Your Car?
To recap, your auto insurance policy will pay for a fallen tree branch that damages your car, but only if you have comprehensive coverage.
Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your car that is not related to a collision. Examples of things that could be covered under comprehensive coverage include hurricane damage, wildfire damage, tornado damage, and flood damage.
If you are worried about trees falling and damaging your vehicle, talk to your insurance agent today about adding comprehensive coverage to your policy.