When your house or car is damaged in a storm, who's responsible and what's covered?

This tree slammed into the back of a house on Diane Ave in Horsham. Officials say one person was hurt and taken to the hospital.
Photo credit Tim Jimenez/KYW Newsradio
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Homeowners are taking stock and cleaning up after Thursday night's storms, and many are trying to figure out what is and isn't covered by insurance. 

Individual policies may vary, but AAA Mid-Atlantic insurance agent Felicia St. Germain says if your tree falls on your house, your homeowners insurance will cover removal and repairs. 

But if your tree lands on your neighbor's property, their policy would cover for them.

"Your neighbor's homeowner's policy would provide insurance coverage. The same holds true if your neighbor's tree falls on your home; you would file a claim with your own insurance company," she explained. 

If your tree falls on your neighbor's car, that's covered by their car insurance. But St. Germain says if the tree was weak, damaged, or decayed before the storm, "but you do nothing about it, and it crashes down on your neighbor's home or their car, you could be held liable for any damage."

No matter where a tree comes from, if it hits your car, St. Germain says the comprehensive portion of your policy will cover it. And unlike with collision, keeping the deductible low in comprehensive — which applies to events that are out of your control like floods, vandalism, or hitting a deer — won't cost you a lot.

"I recommend a $250 deductible for comprehensive. Never go anything higher than $500," she advised. 

Once the storm or danger has passed, do what you can to prevent any additional damage. 

But St. Germain says before you clean up and throw away broken and waterlogged belongings, keep a record of your things. 

"Always take photographs of all of your personal property prior to doing a claim. This way, you can ensure that you are reimbursed adequately for your loss," she said. 

If you can't stay in your storm damaged house, what about lodging and meals?

"Under your homeowner's policy," said St. Germain, "that's covered under 'loss of use.' Always contact your insurance claims adjuster to indicate how much would be covered, how long it would be covered."

And if your property wasn't affected by the Halloween storms, it's a good idea to review your insurance policy now to make sure you'll be adequately covered the next time nasty weather hits.