Property damage is the most common type of loss caused by motor vehicle accidents. It includes any damage to your vehicle or personal property. Property damage claims are considered economic damages because they involve a financial loss.
Responsibility for a property damage claim depends on who caused the accident. You have the burden of proving that the other driver caused the car accident to hold that driver liable for property damage claims. Property damage claims are generally settled separately from any personal injury claim.
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Property Insurance Requirements for Car Owners in California
California drivers are required to carry minimum amounts of liability insurance. You must have at least $5,000 in property damage liability insurance. Liability insurance pays for the repairs or replacement of a vehicle damaged in a car accident that is your fault.
Therefore, if you have the minimum limit of $5,000, your insurance company pays the other driver up to $5,000 for the cost of repair or replacement of their vehicle. You could be personally liable for any amount above your coverage limits.
Other types of insurance coverage other than general liability coverage can cover the cost of physical damage after a car accident or other incident.
Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle if you cause a car accident or hit an object. A lender generally requires this type of car insurance if you owe a loan secured by your car title.
The auto insurance would pay an amount up to the policy limits to repair or replace your vehicle. However, the money for a replacement would be applied to your loan before receiving any funds from the collision coverage.
Comprehensive coverage is another type of car insurance for property damage. It covers damage to your vehicle because of an act of nature, theft, vandalism, or other covered peril. Comprehensive insurance is another type of optional insurance coverage, but lenders generally require you to have comprehensive coverage along with collision coverage.
Who Pays to Repair My Car When Another Driver Caused a Car Accident?
The driver who causes the car accident should be liable for the property damage to your vehicle. However, as stated above, California’s minimum property damage insurance coverage is $5,000. Therefore, there may not be sufficient liability insurance to cover your property damage claim.
You may want to discuss optional insurance coverage with your insurance agent in case your vehicle is damaged in an accident and the liability insurance is insufficient to pay to repair or replace your vehicle.
Things to remember about a property damage claim after a car accident that was not your fault:
- The insurance company for the other driver cannot force you to use a specific repair or collision shop to make repairs
- A claims adjuster or a repair shop chosen by the insurance company will estimate the cost of repair
- You might want to get at least two independent repair estimates to ensure that the insurance estimate covers all damage
- The insurance company may try to save money by using aftermarket or used car parts, so always verify that new parts are used to repair your vehicle
You may be entitled to diminished value after a car accident. The insurance company will not offer to pay you for the value you lost for your vehicle because it was wrecked. You must demand compensation for the decrease in value.
Even though your vehicle is repaired, the vehicle’s value decreases because it was in an automobile accident. A dealer or private buyer can locate the accident information by searching the vehicle’s title.
You need to prove that your vehicle decreased in value because of the accident. It is a good idea to obtain two or three estimates from reputable dealers estimating the value of your vehicle before the accident and the value of your vehicle after repairs. Demand payment from the insurance company for the difference between the two values.
Remember, the insurance company is only liable for damages and diminished value up to the policy limits.
What Happens If My Car Is Totaled?
If your vehicle was totaled in a car accident, the insurance company should reimburse you for the fair market value of your vehicle up to the policy limits. The value of your vehicle depends on several factors including, but not limited to:
- The make, model, and year of your vehicle
- The vehicle’s crash history
- The mileage at the time of the car accident
- The market demand for your vehicle
- Any special options or equipment added to your vehicle
- The overall condition of the vehicle before the crash
You can compare car values online using sites like Edmunds, NADA, Carfax, and Kelly Blue Book. For a more accurate estimate, check with local dealers and appraisers. Providing receipts for optional equipment, photographs of the vehicle before the collision, and copies of maintenance records can help increase the car’s value.
Schedule Your Free Consultation With Our San Diego Personal Injury Lawyers
You deserve compensation for all damages caused by an accident or other personal injury. Our legal team fights to put as much money in your pocket as possible for your injury claim. Call our law office today to schedule your free consultation with our experienced San Diego personal injury attorneys.