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Why Property Damage Coverage Is Important for Auto Insurance

Who thinks about damaging someone else’s property in an accident when you’re driving your car? We worry about damages to our own car. We worry about someone scratching the bumpers and the doors. You also may worry about causing an accident that hurts other people. But you probably don’t think about the damage you may do to other people’s property if you end up causing an accident.

You are liable, though, if you cause damage to someone else’s property, not just someone else’s car. What if you lost control of your car and ran into a store front? Would your car insurance policy protect you? Yes, it would!

The property damage coverage on the liability portion of your car insurance policy protects you up to your policy limit when you’re at fault in causing an accident that results in damage to another person’s property, whether it is a car or something else. The states mandate this coverage in order to assure some level of financial responsibility by the driver who caused the accident that harms “innocent persons”.

The property damage coverage extends beyond the other driver’s car and includes damage to other personal property. This could be a fence, building, walls, power pole or just about any other type of “property” you can describe. Property damage could be significant; therefore, you should ask the advice of your independent agent about the limits you should consider purchasing.

Who Is Covered under Property Damage?

Your property damage coverage is generally triggered under several conditions:

  1. When you are driving a car and are at fault in causing an accident.
  2. When another driver is driving your car with your permission.
  3. When you or a member of your immediate family is driving another person’s car, with their consent.
How Do You Determine the Limits?

Property damage coverage can be purchased in one of two ways, either split limit or combined single limit.


Split limit coverage is divided into three categories:

  1. Bodily injury limit per person
  2. Bodily injury limit per accident
  3. Property damage limit per accident

So for example, your policy might consist of 150/300/50. Your injury limit per person would be $150,000; injury limit per accident, $300,000 and property damage limit per accident $50,000. If you purchase low limits on property damage and the property damage you cause exceeds the limit, you are still liable.

Combined single limit coverage applies a single overall liability limit per accident, regardless of how a claim is comprised between injury, property damage or loss. Typical single limit could be either $300,000 or $500,000. A combined single limit, therefore, provides you greater flexibility if a there is a claim.

Does Property Damage Liability Coverage Include “My” Personal property?

No, it does not. If you cause damage to your car, it is covered under your comprehensive/collision coverage if you purchased it. If you caused damage to your personal property like a bike on your bike rack, it should be covered under your homeowners or renters policy if you have such a policy.

We’re Here to Help

Auto insurance policies can be complicated. Different clauses cover you in different ways and different policies cover specific risks. But it pays to understand the coverage on your car insurance policy and your homeowners or renters policy. Contact Stonewall Insurance. We will be there to help you understand what you are buying, and more important, we will be there if you ever need to file a claim.

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