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1) What is covered under property damage?
Property damage coverage is part of a car insurance policy. It is separate from the bodily injury coverage on the same policy.
Only damage to property, such as vehicle repairs and replacement of damaged personal items, are covered by the property damage coverage.
2) What is considered property damage?
Anything that is damaged in a car wreck is considered property damage.
This is not excluded to the damage to the motor vehicle. If you have personal items that have been lost or damaged due to the collision, these items can qualify as well. Examples include eyeglasses, clothing, cell phones, or similar items.
3) How do I handle a property damage claim?
There are several basic steps to open and pursue a property damage claim.
First, report the claim to both your insurer as well as the at-fault driver’s insurer. Provide both insurers a copy of the police report as soon as possible. Keep track of the claim number and adjuster’s contact information – you will need these often.
Coordinate a day and time for the adjuster to appraise the damage, whether it be through an appraiser or with a local mechanic.
For personal property, be prepared to provide proof of ownership and damage, such as to a cell phone.
Once the adjuster provides you a repair/replacement estimate, you can finalize your settlement. The insurance adjuster may send you a check directly or to the auto mechanic. You will also be required to sign a settlement release for the property damage.
A car accident attorney should help you resolve your property damage claim as part of the representation.
4) What is an insurance deductible?
The deductible is the amount you pay out-of-pocket for property damage before your automobile insurance plan starts to pay.
After you pay your deductible, your insurance company pays the remaining property damage expenses.
5) Is there a deductible for property damage?
There is never a deductible when the at-fault driver’s insurance is covering a property damage claim to your vehicle.
However, you likely have a deductible with your own insurer, even if you’re no at-fault.
Usually, you can be reimbursed for the deductible once the at-fault driver’s insurance accepts fault – they will be responsible for paying any property damage payments made by you and your insurer.
6) How long does it take to settle a property damage claim?
It usually takes several weeks to settle a property damage claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance. There are usually two phases to the process.
First, the at-fault driver’s car insurance investigates the claim to see if they are going to accept fault.
Second, the insurance adjuster will want to evaluate the property damage and appraise the value to repair or replace the damaged property.
7) Am I entitled to a rental car after a car accident?
Assuming you are not at-fault for the collision, you may be entitled to a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired.
The at-fault driver’s insurance should pay for the rental car if they have accepted fault.
Alternatively, you can seek a rental car through your own insurance if you have rental car coverage.
Finally, you can pay for a rental car with your own money and submit you receipts to the at-fault driver’s insurance for reimbursement once they have accepted fault.
8) How long does an insurance company have to provide a rental car?
The at-fault driver’s insurance carrier can take from days to weeks before agreeing to pay for a rental car.
This is because the insurance company is entitled to investigate the claim before accepting fault.
If you have rental car coverage with your own insurance, you can have a rental car pretty quickly.
9) Can I sue for property damage?
You can sue for property damage, but it may not always be worth it.
The value of property damage is usually a fixed, objective value.
Any differences you may have with an insurance adjuster as to the value of the property damage may not warrant the time and expense of pursuing the claim in court – the cost of filing a complaint, serving it on the defendant-driver, and attending court can often offset any differences in property damage valuation.
And, there is no guarantee a judge will agree with your valuation.
10) How is property damage calculated?
For repairable property damage, the value is calculated by the cost of the repairs as well as the depreciation of the car caused by the wreck.
However, if the vehicle or property cannot be repaired (i.e. a “total loss”), the value is calculated by the fair market value at the time of the wreck (i.e. the amount you could have sold the property for).
11) Can I have my vehicle independently appraised?
Yes, you can hire someone to provide an independent appraisal of your vehicle if you suspect that the insurance carrier is not valuing your vehicle appropriately.
These independent appraisers usually cost between $100 and $500, so it's not always worth the cost, depending on the value of the total damage to the vehicle.
A commonly used independent appraiser is Appraisal Engine, Inc.
12) What is gap insurance?
Gap insurance is an optional car insurance coverage that helps pay off your auto loan if your car is totaled or stolen and you owe more than the car's depreciated value.
Gap insurance helps pay the gap between the depreciated value of your car and what you still owe on the car.