Blog / Car Insurance
Does my Car Insurance Cover Damage from Fallen Trees?
Accidents happen. That’s why we pay for car insurance.
Usually, accidents are caused by human error, and the insurance companies of at-fault drivers bear the costs.
But what if nobody is at fault? What if – for example – a tree fell on your vehicle?
Around 400 tree incidents reported in Singapore per year.
One of the great things about Singapore is its greenery. From a Tree Planting campaign dating back to the 1960s to today’s One Million Trees Movement, every effort has been made to ensure densely-packed Singapore doesn’t become an unfriendly concrete jungle.
Singapore’s tree-lined streets are admired worldwide.
But, despite being professionally-maintained by trained arborists, sometimes the unexpected happens – a lightning strike, or unusually strong winds, for instance – and trees can lose limbs or fall over.
And when they’re along roads, that can mean damage to vehicles.
It is not as uncommon as you may think.
In the last year alone a tree at the intersection of Tanjong Katong Road and Geylang Road toppled on four vehicles; another at Tiong Bahru Road landed on a car and a sheltered walkway; a passenger was trapped in a car on the Pan Island Expressway by a fallen tree; a tunnel on the Central Expressway was closed after a tree fell on a car; and three cars were damaged by a falling tree at Sultan Gate in Kampong Glam.
These are just a few of the 400 or so tree incidents reported per year.
What can drivers do to avoid danger from fallen trees?
If possible, avoid driving or parking under tree cover when storms are forecast. If you can wait 30-minutes to avoid the worst of a storm, you’ll minimise your risk of tree damage, and other dangers associated with storms.
Heavy rain means extra weight on branches too, so they’re more likely to be under strain, and prolonged heavy rain can mean waterlogged soil and more chance of trees being uprooted.
What to do if you have a falling tree incident?
If a tree falls on the road or your car, you should follow similar procedures as with any other accident: Ensure nobody is injured – if so, call the emergency services, do not move vehicles, and photograph the scene; if not, activate your hazard-warning lights, photograph the scene, and if possible then move your vehicle to the side of the road.
If it is safe to do so, move tree branches aside to clear a path for pedestrian or vehicular traffic. If branches are too large to move, or it is not safe to do so, NParks has a 24-hour hotline (1800 471 7300).
Any accident involving injury should be reported to Traffic Police within 24 hours. Likewise, report the accident to your insurer within 24 hours or the next working day.
Who’s responsible for damage caused by a fallen tree?
NParks is responsible for managing around six million trees in Singapore, around a third of which are on roads and public parks and gardens, while the Housing Board or town councils are responsible for trees in public housing estates.
Trees on private property are the responsibility of the owner or occupier.
Who pays if a tree falls on your car?
There is the possibility you could claim damages from the person or organization that is responsible for the tree, though you will have to prove they have acted negligently in its maintenance to do so.
A much surer protection is a Comprehensive insurance policy that covers tree damage. Be aware that Third Party only, and Third-Party Fire and Theft policies do not cover damages to your car caused by fallen trees.
Be aware that not all Comprehensive insurance policies are created equal – check that your policy does cover damage caused by falling trees or branches.
Comprehensive insurance from Budget Direct covers damage to your car by flood, fallen tree branches or other natural disaster(s), among many other potential causes of damage.