Renters insurance question
August 31, 2005 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Renter's insurace: Wind blew a tree down on a guest's vehicle in the driveway of a rental house. The hood is dented pretty heavily. Whose insurance pays, if at all?

Car: Has basic liability & uninsured motorist, not collision.

House: Renter's insurance is paid up. A person at the insurance company said they won't pay for it, and "we only cover things inside the house". I smell a rat as I always thought renter's insurance covered things like people falling on your sidewalk.

I'll be able to see the policy tonight but I wanted to get another perspective on this.
posted by rolypolyman to Work & Money (12 answers total)
Response by poster: This is in the US, and in Texas, sorry. Also the landlord only carries insurance for the house structure itself, and on the lease the renter assumes all other liability (which I think is the norm).
posted by rolypolyman at 12:59 PM on August 31, 2005

Sounds strange that the landlord over has coverage for the house. That does mean that he's got no liability if, for example, the mailman slips on an icy driveway.

I'm wondering if he's being truthful.
posted by Kickstart70 at 1:05 PM on August 31, 2005

Homeowner's insurance includes liability for damage to others on your property. The [your?] landlord in this instance should have homeowner's insurance which should cover this [though many are getting wind exceptions lately, so it's a bit of an up in the air assertion]. My understanding of renter's insurance was that it covered the renter's posessions from damage that happened to the rental property they were living in, and possibly other property/posessions like a car. State Farm outlines what their renter's insurance covers, as an example. So, in this circumstance, renter's insurance would not cover damage to another person's car in the manner you describe.
posted by jessamyn at 1:05 PM on August 31, 2005

It's my understanding that if you have comprehensive coverage in your auto insurance policy, you are covered for miscellaneous car damages like vandalism and acts of God. It doesn't say in your post whether you have that type of coverage- it'd be good to find out.
posted by elisabeth r at 1:15 PM on August 31, 2005

Response by poster: Also I just found out the tree is on a neighbor's property -- just a couple of feet past the property line. I'm thinking that this has a lot of bearing on the situation.
posted by rolypolyman at 1:17 PM on August 31, 2005

Response by poster: No comprehensive on the car.
posted by rolypolyman at 1:17 PM on August 31, 2005

If the tree was on the neighbor's property, you need to talk to the owner of that property. I wouldn't expect your renter's insurance to cover it, but the owner of the property from which the tree fell would be the responsible party, so their insurance should cover it.
posted by ambrosia at 1:28 PM on August 31, 2005

It'll be the homeowner's insurance policy on your property, not the neighbor's property. (Special rules for trees - even though the tree lives on the neighbor's property, branches that fall on another property will be covered by that property's insurance - imagine a tornado, where miscellaneous branches fly everywhere - how can you tell which branch came from which tree? Even where it's clear, the rule is still in force). Basically, tree falling is always the "fault" of wherever it lands. So, file a claim with the insurance company of your landlord.

Ignore whatever the landlord said about his insurance. All homeowner's insurance includes liability coverage, and if there's a mortgage on the property he'll be required to be covered. Imagine that the house had fallen on the car rather than a tree branch. That's the homeowner's liability to prevent - and so are tree branches.
posted by jellicle at 2:02 PM on August 31, 2005

If this car was worth so little that it wasn't worth keeping liability on is it worth the fallout getting your landlord to pay up? Clearly he's trying to avoid ponying up so may face some reprisal. I'm not defending that behavior at all, but I wonder what pushback you're going to get over payment for a car the owner apparently didn't consider worth insuring...
posted by phearlez at 2:18 PM on August 31, 2005

Was the tree in the neighbor's yard, or out on the sidewalk green strip? If the latter, it may be a city responsibility.

File claims with the homeowners' for both property owners. That'll sic the two companies on each other in a competition to prove why it's clearly the other's responsibility to pay for the car's repair.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 3:03 PM on August 31, 2005

Comphrensive automobile coverage will compensate any physical damage that is not the result of a collison or overturn, by standard ISO policy language.

Your renters insurance most likely covers third party liablity claims, however not in the case of damage from a tree that results from wind. This would be different if they put you on notice that the tree was a threat and you would otherwise be held liable, but generally if it's a healthy tree and you were not put on notice, then it's on them. Your renters insurance will pay for bodily injury result from this, if applicable though.

If you doubt the insurance company (you probably shouldn't in this case) you can attempt to get an independent claims adjuster, who will do very effective things to apply any policy language to make this compensatible.

Best luck.
posted by sled at 3:24 PM on August 31, 2005

We had this happen to us - a tree fell on my husband's car and on the landlord's car, both parked in the driveway; our car was pretty badly dented up, spoiler was smashed off, window broken, so on. Older car, only basic coverage, so our car insurance wouldn't cover it; and their homeowner's wouldn't cover it; and our renter's didn't cover it. We ended up eating about 1K worth of damage - I suppose we could've pressed the landlords for it, but we didn't. This is Canada, hope it's different for you.
posted by Melinika at 6:41 PM on August 31, 2005

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