What to Know About Property Damage Claims

When an accident occurs, it can lead to not only physical injuries but vehicle damage. 

In the general sense, if property damage occurs because of a car accident or some other type of event, a property damage claim may arise. The most common example of a property damage claim is when someone in an accident files a claim with the insurer of the at-fault driver. 

If a driver causes an accident or their vehicle is damaged, they would file a claim for property damage with their insurance—either their comprehensive or collision. 

Liability for damage from an accident can extend to the other driver and their insurance, your insurer if you’re in a no-fault state, or in some cases, the employer of the other driver. 

Again, property damage claims might be covered by collision, comprehensive or liability coverage, and which one provides coverage can depend on what caused the damage. 

After you file a claim for property damage, the insurer assigns an adjuster to the case. The adjuster oversees the complete process and then gives you a settlement offer

How Do You File a Property Damage Claim?

The first thing you should do is make sure everyone is safe. 

If so, then you should file a police report. You’re required to file a report legally if you’re in an accident with extensive property damage. The particulars vary depending on the state, but you should get a police report regardless because it’s likely your insurance company will want a copy. 

You should let your insurer know any time your vehicle sustains damage, no matter how it happened. 

Even if you’re going to file a claim through the driver’s insurance that you believe is at fault, you still need to let your insurer know. Your insurance company might end up being able to work on your behalf with the insurer of the other driver. There’s not a timeline for talking to your insurance provider, but it’s best to do it as soon as you can. 

You can file a claim in several ways. For example, you can send the form by email or through the company’s website. If you’re going to file a claim with another driver’s insurance, you’ll need to find their claims number and call that. 

After you submit a claim, your case will be assigned an adjuster. They go over the damage themselves. An adjuster might also take your vehicle to be inspected at a repair shop. 

Once the adjuster has gone over all the evidence, they’ll provide you with an estimated settlement, and that’s how much they’re willing to pay you to have your car repaired. The adjuster also decides fault if you were in an accident and that’s how the property damage occurred. 

Your car might be considered a total loss if the costs to repair the damage are more than its market value. If that happens, the insurance company should give you a check for the value of your vehicle before the damage. The car’s value is based on things like condition and mileage. 

Vehicle Repairs

With property damage, the insurance company will usually recommend a repair shop to you, but you’re not obligated to go with their recommendation. 

If you do go to a shop that’s authorized, then the insurer can pay them directly. If they find out there’s more extensive damage during the repair process than was initially realized, then the approval process for those repairs tends to go faster if you use an authorized body shop. 

A possible point of content can occur because of the use of Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM parts. OEM parts are the same as the parts that come with your vehicle, but insurance companies will often only allow for the use of what are known as cheaper after-market parts. 

If you request the use of OEM, you may have to pay the price difference that exists in comparison to aftermarket parts. 

Finally, once your vehicle is repaired, the insurance company either sends money directly to the body shop or they might send you a check. You will have to sign a release stating you accept the payment. In signing that release, you also agree not to pursue any other claims related to the accident. 

These are the most straightforward steps with property damage, but often with car accidents, there are physical injuries as well. That’s a more complex situation that most likely requires you to work with a personal injury attorney.