On 2/28/2019 the Kennewick Police Department reported on Facebook that they responded to 911 reports just after 9:00 pm that a carport structure at the Pheonix Manor Apartments on the 400 block of S Olympia St. had colapsed.
Upon arriving the police quickly were able to determine that all the cars were empty and tht nobody had been trapped or injured by the falling roof structure. The vehicles were not so lucky, reports are that 18 vehicles were damaged. What a cacophony of car alarms that must have been.
Apparently, the record snow falls we have had over the past few weeks was too much for the roof to bear and the metal poles supporting the low pitched wooden roof collapsed under the weight. It is interesting that the roof did have a pitch to it and the amount of snow showing on the collapsed roof does not seem excessive unless somehow the structure had been weakened (hit by a car possibly?) and once one support buckled, the rest fell like dominos.
Comprehensive Coverage on the Car Insurance
Comprehensive insurance (also known as “other than collision”) is an optional auto insurance coverage that typically covers damage from fire, vandalism, theft, being hit by an animal, or falling objects (like a tree, hail, or in this case a carport). If you’re financing your car, your lender likely requires “full coverage” and comprehensive and collision are the two coverages that meant by that term.
So, if you have your car financed, you probably have comprehensive coverage and will only have to pay your deductible to get your car fixed. But, if your vehicle is paid for, you may have decided to drop comprehensive. If that is the case, unless the apartment complex owner is found to have been negligent, you will have to pay to fix your own car just as you would have if it was hit by any other falling object, stolen, or vandalized.
Renter’s insurance covers your “stuff” but excludes all vehicles with an engine larger than a lawn mower. So, contrary to a number of commenters online, your renter’s insurance policy will not pay to fix your vehicle.
Apartment Complex Liability Insurance
Just like your auto insurance only has to pay the other guy if the accident is your fault, so also the landlord only has to cover the damaged vehicles if it can be proven that they were ‘at=fault,’ ie that they were negligent.
Had anyone reported structural damage to the landlord? Were there obvious signs of failure before it occurred? If not, then the landlord is no more responsible than if my neighbor’s tree blows over and hits my car. Did every other apartment owner with similar carports shovel their roof? Did tenants report sagging joists?
Without provable negligence the apartment complex’s insurance policy cannot pay. I doubt the owners of the complex could or would pay for 18 cars out of their own pockets. Sure, the car owner can sue the apartment complex, but again, even in small claims court, you must prove negligence if you hope to recover your loss.
If I was one of the car owners I would be praying they find negligence. Looking at the photos, I see the roof is sloped, looks like there was less than 12-inches of snow on it, so not sure why it would colapse unless there had been structural damage — maybe someone hit one of the support posts during the week? You probably would have to pay more to hire a lawyer to handle the case than you would recover for the damage to your car.
This is why we need to have insurance on our “stuff”, including our car, our homes, our belongings, even our lives. Stuff happens, like the collapse of a roof, a car running a red light, an extention cord catching an apartment on fire. Be prepared. Take care of yourself. Remember, depending on GoFundMe is not planning ahead.
Insurance Sucks Till You Need It
You may think insurance sucks — but it is amazing how many people want it to pay out when something happens. And if it paid out every time something happened, even when it was not ‘our fault’ — then the rates would have to be 2x or more what you are paying now. The insurance companies deny claims that don’t fit the policy you bought in order to keep your rates from skyrocketing.
FYI, that is why it is a good idea to continue to carry comprehensive coverage (fire, vandalism, theft, falling objects) until your car is worth so little that if something were to happen to it, you would not panic but would be happy. In other words, it may be worth $10-$20 extra each month to recoup the value of your vehicle should something happen to it rather than to have to catch rides with friends, the bus, or Uber till you can save enough for a down payment.
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