Does Car Insurance Cover Property Damages at Home?
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Accidents can happen any time, any place. And your home is no exception. In fact, studies have suggested that around half of all accidents occur within 5 miles of your home, and that includes accidents that occur on your property.
So will the costs of the damages be covered by your car insurance? The answer is yes—if you have the right coverage. So how does that work?
The different coverage included in car insurance policies are designed to cover different types of losses. So whether or not losses are covered and paid depends on the details of the accident. To determine if a claim might be covered, we'll take a look at a few scenarios, and how your auto insurance policy will handle it.
Damage to vehicles while pulling in or out of your driveway
Causing property damage while pulling in or out of a driveway is quite common. Whether the damages will be covered will likely depend on two things: whose property was damaged and the types of coverage on your policy.
Just about every motorist is required to carry liability insurance, so if you are backing out of your driveway and your friend's car just happened to be in your way, your liability coverage will cover repairs, up to your policy limit.
The damage to your own vehicle is a different story. To pay for those damages, you will need collision insurance. Once you’ve made your claim, you’ll have to pay any applicable deductible, and then the insurance will pay the rest of the costs, up to the limit of your coverage. Of course, if the damage you caused to your vehicle is higher than the liability limits on the coverage you have, you’ll have to cover the rest out of pocket.
For the most part, you are not required to have collision coverage on your vehicle, but instances like these can make it a worthwhile investment, as long as you get what you need and you aren’t overpaying. Consider this: If you’re paying half the worth of your vehicle annually, you’d be better off putting that money into savings - or finding a more affordable policy.
Like your car, other property that you own also won't be covered by liability-only policy insurance. Liability coverage is designed to only cover damages that you caused with your vehicle to other people’s property. So if you backed out of your driveway and hit a car that you own, the damage would only be covered if you had collision insurance on each vehicle. If you did, you'd have to file a claim for each and pay the deductibles.
Damage you cause to structures
The same concept applies to damage caused to your home. If you're pulling into your garage and you fail to stop in time, no matter how much damage you caused to the wall or your car, your insurance policy won't cover it if you're the homeowner.
However, if you're a tenant renting the property where you live, your liability coverage will pay for the costs of the damages. So if you take out the garage door of a house you're renting, property damage liability should take care of fixing it, once you pay the deductible.
This is also true if you happen to knock over your neighbor's fence. You can file a property damage claim and your policy will pay to get the fence repaired, although insurance can’t do anything to repair your relationship to your neighbor, so bear that in mind before you start texting and driving. Distracted driving, even when your right by your house, isn’t worth it.
Damage caused by beyond human control
There are plenty of scenarios where your car could get damaged at home without you behind the wheel. If you park in your driveway or on the street, you run the risk of having your vehicle damaged by a number of things like hail, or falling tree limbs. In that case, comprehensive coverage would cover the loss, minus any deductible you have to pay.
Hail damage adds up quickly. Spending $30 a dent might not sound too bad, but if you’ve got fifteen dents and a broken windshield, that’s a lot of cash. There are plenty of times where your car might be totaled from hail damage alone, so keep this in mind if you live in an area where hail is a concern, and keep your car under cover during storms. And find an insurance policy that gives you peace of mind.
Of course, even if you parked in your garage, you’re not totally safe. Fire and falling objects can still get to your car inside. But comprehensive coverage will pay for fire damage, and it will also cover falling objects that you may have stored up in the ceiling joists.
Your car was vandalized or damaged by a hit and run
If your car is parked outside and you come out to see that it's been damaged by a hit-and-run driver, you would need to have collision coverage or uninsured motorist property damage coverage to pay for the repairs. And you'll have to pay your deductible if you have one.
The same thing goes if your car is vandalized or stolen. Keep this in mind when parking your car in the street or driveway. Lock your doors, don’t leave the key in it, and fold in the street-facing rear-view mirrors, especially on high profile vehicles. Whenever possible, keep your car in the garage overnight. If you can’t afford a sudden out of pocket expense, consider these possibilities when you’re selecting the auto insurance policy that’s right for you.
Injuries caused at home
So what about injury protection? If you accidentally run over your friend’s foot in the driveway, the medical bills fall under your bodily injury liability insurance. Even if they weren’t in the car when they were injured, they’re covered; it can even cover lost wages if they have to miss work. If you have a higher deductible than the costs of their medical expenses, you’ll wind up paying it all out of pocket.
If you sail into the wall of the house and get whiplash because your foot slipped off the brake, your bodily injury coverage won’t apply. As the at-fault driver in the accident, you’ll need medical payments coverage (or “Med Pay”) to help pay for the costs of your injuries.
When you’re comparing car insurance quotes, take stock of the deductibles before you choose, and ask your insurance agent to show you the costs of a lower deductible. If you can’t afford a high deductible, then you need to find an insurance policy that’s right for you.
The bottom line
The coverage options available on auto insurance policies will cover just about any type of accident that involves your insured car if you carry them. However, it may not be reasonable or affordable to purchase every insurance coverage available. When choosing an insurance policy, you have to determine for yourself which risks you should insure against and whether or not it'll fit in your budget.