AUSTIN, Texas — Some Central Texans are dealing with damage after ice-heavy trees crashed ono their cars or homes, after winter weather moved through our area.
Now, those affected may be asking: Does insurance cover fallen tree branches?
According to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), you can use the following tips to learn how your insurance might work if a tree branch falls on your house or car:
- Take photos of the damage before you do any repairs
- After you make temporary repairs, contact your insurance agent or company
- TDI says your homeowner policy should cover materials and labor used to make repairs. Save your receipts for reimbursement
- TDI also says many policies don't pay for tree branch or tree removal. Ask your agent if your policy does
- If a branch fell on your car, your auto policy will pay for damages if you have comprehensive coverage, according to TDI.
A big question many insurance companies are getting is: "If my neighbor's tree damages my home or vehicle, are they supposed to pay for it?"
TDI and Brent Allen with State Farm said no, unless you can prove the tree was dead before the incident.
"You know, let's say it was a tornado and it picked up my tree and it, you know, put it in the air for a mile and then landed on somebody's house. Just because that's my tree doesn't make that my responsibility," Allen said.
Allen said it's best to just file a claim with your insurance. He said many have been calling not only to file claims but to find out what damage their insurance covers. He added that during natural disasters like this, State Farm dispatches a good number of adjusters to start getting claims going.
Mistie Hinote with TDI said the department is ready to answer any questions, including information about avoiding scams.
She said when working with repair companies, never sign a blank contract or pay the total cost upfront.
"If you do pay some down, don't pay the rest until all your work is completed to your satisfaction and then just ask for references," Hinote said.
Also, check with the Better Business Bureau.
If you have additional questions, you can call TDI's Help Line at 800-252-3439.