Insights:

A landlord isn’t usually responsible for car damage connected fallen trees unless the property owner didn’t properly maintain the tree. 

If a tree falls on a rental property, who is responsible for the damages? What if the damage includes your car? Is the landlord responsible for tree damage to a car?

The short answer: probably not. However, it depends on the exact circumstances of the incident. So read on to find out what to do if your car gets damaged by a fallen tree at your apartment.

Key Takeaways

  • Falling tree damage to cars is generally covered by the vehicle’s auto insurance.
  • A car insurance policy’s comprehensive coverage handles the repairs.
  • A landlord may be deemed liable if the tree was dead, diseased or damaged at the time of the loss. In that case, the car insurance company may approach the landlord’s insurer for repayment.
  • If the landlord is liable, the property owner’s liability coverage may reimburse the car insurance company and recoup the deductible.
  • Renters insurance doesn’t cover vehicle damage — even if it happens on the property.

Who is responsible when a tree falls on a car at an apartment?

If a tree falls on your vehicle, you need to rely on your own auto insurance policy to cover the damages.

Acts of nature that harm someone else’s property — like a natural disaster or 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. Therefore, the landlord won’t be found liable by their insurance company for natural disasters and storms.

That said, it is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure trees are properly maintained. If you believe the landlord knew about a dead tree, or one that was diseased or could easily fall with or without a storm and did nothing about it, there could be responsibility put on the landlord for not taking care of this dangerous situation. In this case, the damage might be covered by the landlord’s home liability insurance. 

When does a landlord’s liability insurance get involved?

Liability coverage kicks in if the property owner is at fault by allowing dangerous conditions, failing to maintain the trees or other reasons.

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 near it. 

What type of car insurance pays for tree damage?

The easiest way to get your car repaired, or have its actual cash value paid out if it’s totaled, is to place a claim through your own car insurance. Specifically, this is covered under the comprehensive coverage part of your insurance policy. 

Comprehensive coverage handles “other than collision” incidents, such as damage sustained from an act of nature. Keep in mind that you’ll be responsible for paying the deductible.

If, after you make your auto claim, your car insurance company thinks your landlord is liable, it could pursue the landlord and the home insurance policy to recover what the insurance provider paid out (and perhaps recoup your deductible).

And if a tree falls on a tenant’s car because of a third party, such as a landscaping tree removal company, their insurance should cover any repairs (or payouts if the tree fell on your car and it is totaled).

Is a landlord responsible for tree trimming?

In many cases, the lease agreement outlines whose responsibility it is to maintain landscaping and in what capacity. Some landlords might have their tenants sign a separate lawn care or landscaping addendum to the lease.

However, if the lease doesn’t outline any tree trimming provisions, the landlord is generally responsible. That’s usually in the best interest of both parties, too, since there’s liability involved in tree trimming. For one, the tenant could fall and injure themselves. Or they could prune improperly and end up deforming or killing the tree. 

For these reasons, it’s generally assumed that for safety and insurance purposes, tree maintenance is a responsibility that falls on landlords and is a normal cost of owning property. 

Does renters insurance cover a tree falling on my car?

If you have renters insurance and a falling tree damages your car, the big question is: does renters insurance cover a tree falling on a car? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

A renters insurance policy covers your personal property in rental properties, such as furniture, clothing and electronics, if they’re damaged or stolen. Renters insurance also covers belongings that are stolen from your personal vehicle. However, it won’t cover the car itself, even if it’s parked or stored on the property you’re renting. 

Therefore, if a falling tree damages your car, you’ll need to go through your auto insurance to file a claim.

What is a tenant’s responsibility for tree upkeep?

Tenants aren’t generally responsible for major tree maintenance, such as trimming trees and branches. Most lease agreements outline basic landscaping responsibilities on the part of the tenant, such as watering, mowing and weeding. 

In some cases, the landlord may employ a gardening or landscaping company to handle these maintenance tasks as well. 

If you aren’t sure what your responsibilities are regarding tree upkeep, review your lease or ask your landlord (and have those responsibilities outlined in writing).