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If a tree is struck by lightning and falls on my car in the driveway, does my home insurance cover the damage to my car?

No, home insurance covers the house and its contents, but not the car. In this instance you should file a claim on your car insurance policy, if you have comprehensive coverage.

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Car insurance includes several types of coverage -- bodily injury and property damage liability; personal injury protection or medical payments; uninsured/underinsured motorist; collision; comprehensive; and extras, such as roadside assistance. All states except New Hampshire require car owners to carry liability insurance, which covers damage and injuries drivers cause others. Some states also require car owners to carry personal injury protection, or PIP, which covers drivers' own injuries and those of their passengers. A few states require uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which pays your medical bills if another driver causes an injury or accident and doesn't have sufficient liability insurance.

Both collision and comprehensive are optional types of coverage. Collision covers damage to your car from a traffic accident. Comprehensive covers losses stemming from incidents other than a traffic accident, such as natural disasters, collision with an animal, theft, vandalism or an event like the one you describe--a falling tree.

Some car owners drop collision and comprehensive coverage to save money on car insurance rates, particularly when their vehicles have aged and lost much of their value. But it's a good idea to maintain both types of coverage if your car is a newer model and you would have difficulty paying out of pocket to replace it if it were damaged beyond repair. A lender may require you to carry both types of coverage if you still owe money on the vehicle.

In this case, if you're among policyholders without comprehensive car insurance, then you'll have to pay the repair bill to fix your car.

For more, see Car insurance basics.

Last updated: Oct. 27, 2011
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