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Ask the Home Insurance Expert

A tree fell on my car during a storm. I am a renter at the property. Can I file a claim with the landlord's homeowners insurance?

You can file a claim, but unless there was neglect by landlord regarding the tree the claim will likely be denied.

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Acts of nature that harm someone else’s property – like a storm causing a tree to fall on a car – aren’t normally covered by a home insurance policy because there is no negligence on the part of the homeowner.   The landlord, thus, won’t be found liable by the insurance company and claims will be denied.

If, though, you believe the landlord knew the tree was dead, diseased or could easy fall with or without a storm and did nothing about it, then there could be responsibility put on landlord for not taking care of this dangerous situation and a claim accepted by his insurer.  However, the homeowners insurance carrier may say you contributed to your vehicle being damaged if you also knew of the tree’s fragile condition and parked by it.

The easiest was to get your car repaired, or its actual cash value paid out if it’s totaled, is to place a claim through your own comprehensive car insurance.  This physical damage coverage covers your vehicle “other than collision” incidents, such as damage sustained from an act of nature.  Your deductible will be due.  

If, after you make your auto claim, your car insurance company thinks your landlord is liable in any way, it could pursue the landlord and the home insurance policy for recovery of what it paid out (and perhaps recoup your deductible).

Last updated: Jun. 4, 2014
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