West Virginia Reader Shares Tree Sap Claims Experience With Allstate Insurance

by M.C.
(Shepherdstown, WV)

I am writing to let your readers know that even if or when your own insurance company tells you that something is not covered because of policy restrictions, don’t just drop the claim and walk away. A few years ago I had my car insured by Allstate Insurance Company. I was generally happy with them and only left because I found cheaper rates elsewhere, but that is not what I want to share today.

At the time, I lived in an apartment and had an assigned parking space. Unfortunately, mine was under a tall pine tree that dropped sap onto my car. I was having my car detailed and the guy cleaning my car pointed out that the sap had eaten into my paint, especially on the roof. It had built up over time and the damage was quite obvious when my car was clean. I needed a new paint job.

After reading my Allstate policy, I called their claims office and reported a claim under my comprehensive (HH) coverage. (My current insurance company calls this “other than collision” coverage.) I was first told that this type of damage would not be covered because tree sap built up over time and was not a specific loss. I pointed out that my comprehensive coverage specifically mentioned “falling objects” as a covered cause of damage. The sap fell from a tree so it was a falling object.

I was then told that the claim would not be paid because I didn’t mitigate my damages: I did not protect my car from the damage. I pointed out that I had no choice but to park under the tree; I even got a letter from my apartment manager proving that this was my mandatory parking space. I also pointed out that since I was not an expert that knew that the sap would damage my car, and I couldn’t see the top of my car where the majority of the damage was, there is no way I could have been expected to protect against this. I didn’t clean the sap off immediately because I only saw it as a nuisance, not something that would eat my paint.

In short, I argued this point for weeks and wound up talking to so many managers up the food chain that I lost count, but I finally got a new paint job and only paid my $50 deductible (under my comprehensive/non-collision coverage). Persistence pays, especially when you’re right.

This article was approved for informational purposes and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel.

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