AUSTIN (KXAN) — Last night’s wintry weather coated Central Texas trees with up to .75 inches of ice in some areas. Ice accumulation can weigh hundreds of pounds and may lead to branch failure – when the weight of the ice exceeds the wood’s resistance.
Ben Gonzalez of the Texas Department of Insurance said that if a branch or tree falls onto your car and damages it, you may be out of luck.
“It really depends on your policy. If you have just the general liability that the state requires to drive, you’re not going to get covered for that damage. You have to have comprehensive auto insurance, which pays for things other than an auto accident,” Gonzalez said.
This explanation applies also if a branch falls onto your vehicle while driving.
“If it’s somebody else’s fault, that’s when their liability coverage would pay for your damage. But if you just have the bare minimums, you’re probably not going to be covered,” Gonzalez said.
If a tree from a neighbor’s yard falls onto your car, causing damage, their homeowner’s insurance might pay if your neighbor is somehow at fault. If not, their policy likely won’t pay it.
“I think it would be worth pursuing, to go in and ask them to make a claim. But generally, trees falling, it doesn’t matter which yard they came from in this kind of situation – it is kind of an act of nature,” Gonzalez said.
“Unless there was some kind of negligence, or they were trying to move something, and they bumped into it and the tree (fell). There are those kinds of scenarios.”
If your car or home was damaged in the storm, Gonzalez advised trying to prevent any more damage from occurring.
“If a tree falls on your home, and there’s a chance of getting rain in there, your insurance company is going to want you to make reasonable repairs to prevent further damage. So tarps, plywood, anything like that,” he said.
“But don’t make any kind of permanent repairs until you have an adjuster come out or talk to the insurance company.”