HARTFORD, CT (July 8, 2021) – With another round of unpredictable storms in the forecast and Tropical Storm Elsa headed this way, AAA Insurance is expecting more calls – and more questions - from homeowners reporting damage caused by high winds toppling trees onto homes and vehicles.
“The wild weather this week is an important reminder that really anyone in any part of the state may be vulnerable to wind-related damages to their home or auto," says Sonia Medina, spokesperson for AAA Insurance. “It is important to understand what your insurance policy does and does not cover to avoid unexpected financial hardship”.
Most importantly, AAA says, it is important for homeowners to understand who is liable when a tree from a neighbor’s property falls on their property – or vice versa. More often than not, but not always, the responsibility lies with the homeowner whose house or vehicle is damaged, not the homeowner of the property where the tree originated.
“And, it is critical, of course, that homeowners have adequate coverage when responsibility for the damage falls their way,” Medina adds. "Vehicle damage is covered only by the optional, comprehensive portion of an auto policy."
AAA Tips on Insurance Coverage for Vehicles and Homes
- Physical damage to a car caused by heavy wind or fallen tree limbs is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto policy.
- If your car is damaged by a fallen tree or limbs, you would need to file a claim using your vehicle policy’s comprehensive coverage.
- If your tree falls on your house, your insurance will cover removal of the tree and home repairs due to damage.
- If your tree falls on your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s homeowner’s policy would provide insurance coverage. The same holds true if your neighbor’s tree falls on your home; you would file a claim with your own insurance company.
- If a tree falls in your yard, but doesn’t hit anything, you would pay for its removal in most cases.
- Additionally, if a tree on your property is weak, damaged, or decayed, but you do nothing about it, and it crashes down on a neighbor’s home (or vehicle), you could be held liable for damages.
- Wind-related damage to a house, its roof, its contents and other insured structures on the property is covered under standard homeowner’s insurance policies. Wind-driven rain that causes an opening in the roof or wall and enters through this opening is also covered.
- Damage to a house and its contents caused by a collapse is covered under standard homeowners insurance policies.
AAA Insurance recommends these tips to help the claims process go smoothly:
- Take appropriate immediate and temporary measures to prevent further damage. If you do make minor repairs before an insurance adjuster arrives, save receipts to submit for reimbursement.
- Phone your insurance company immediately. Be prepared with a list of questions ahead of time: Am I covered? Does my claim exceed my deductible? How long will it take to process my claim? Will I need to obtain estimates for repairs to structural damage?
- If your home is damaged to the extent you cannot live there, find out if you have coverage for additional living expenses for accommodations while repairs are completed. If you do stay at a hotel, keep your receipts for reimbursement.
- Schedule a time for an adjuster to inspect the damage to your property.
- Prepare a list of lost or damaged articles. Avoid throwing out damaged items until the adjuster has visited. Consider photographing or videotaping the damage.
- Get claim forms. Insurance companies will send required claim forms by a specified time period. Be sure to completely fill out the form and return promptly to avoid delays.