What Accidents Result in Property Damage?
It is necessary to obtain insurance when purchasing a home or a motor vehicle. Accidents happen when least expected, and they can cause serious damage to someone’s personal property. Depending on the nature of the accident and the property that was damaged, repair costs can total hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, particularly if a total loss is suffered.
Property damage insurance protects one’s personal property and ensures that they are compensated for the damage. The type of policy someone purchases will depend on the property they wish to ensure. An experienced property damage lawyer can explain the options that are available, address any quotations, and ensure that the client receives the compensation they deserve.
What Types of Accidents Cause Property Damage?
- Water damage: These claims are some of the costliest, owing to the vast amount of damage that water can cause. Whether it is from heavy rain that causes flooding, or freezing temperatures that cause a pipe to burst, water can cause extensive damage that can be very expensive to fix. For example, if a basement becomes flooded as a result of a broken pipe, costs to repair the damage can include the following:
- Plumber fees
- Pumping and cleaning out the water from the basement
- Additional fees for drying out the basement and preventing mold from developing
- Accommodations if the water needs to be shut off
- Total costs to fix water damage can run over $60,000
- Fire: There are several ways that a fire can start in the home, including electrical fires, grease fires in the kitchen, and lightning striking the house. Although these types of accidents are not as common as other types of accidents, they can cause extensive property damage or even a total loss. The average claim cost for fire damage between 2009 and 2013 was $37,153.
- Wind and hail: Hailstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes can cause massive property damage. Depending on their location, homeowners may be required to purchase additional policies so that they are covered in the event of a total loss. However, some policies will not cover wind damage caused by severe weather. For example, homeowners who live in Tornado Alley, or coastal states with a high rate of hurricanes, may not be covered if they suffer property damage. Homeowners should make sure to check their policy and confirm that it covers weather-related damage.
- Vandalism: Examples of property damage caused by vandalism or malicious disruption include broken windows or outdoor lights, cut trees or bushes, offensive messages spray painted on the home, and damage to sidewalks or driveways. Although most homeowners’ insurance policies cover this type of damage, it is a good idea to check the policy or contact your insurance agent.
- Theft: Coming home to find that a house has been broken into can leave someone feeling scared and vulnerable. It is an invasion of privacy and a threat to someone’s safety. In addition to stealing valuable items, the burglar may have also broken windows, damaged furniture, or caused other property damage. Additional coverage may be available to help pay for repairs, and increased security may prevent this from happening.
Property damage liability coverage protects someone if they cause damage to another person’s property while performing a professional service in or around a home:
- Fire damage: If a worker was rewiring a lighting system in a client’s home, and a spark caused a fire, they may be responsible for the client’s property damage, including the following:
- Repairs related to the fire
- Costs to replace items damage by the fire
- Smoke damage to the home
- Accommodations for the family while the home is repaired
- Impact damage: This protects someone if they cause property damage by dropping something or knocking something over in a customer’s home. Examples include the following:
- The worker leaves a visible dent in the client’s wood floor after dropping a toolbox
- The contractor breaks a window while carrying a ladder into a client’s home
- The worker causes a large crack in the cement step when moving a heavy piano through the front door
- Professional mistake: If a worker’s professional error causes damage to someone’s property, professional liability insurance can protect them from having to pay for their mistake from out of their own pocket. For example, if a computer software consultant was hired to install the latest business software onto a client’s computer but mistakenly installed a virus in the process, the consultant will be covered by their professional liability insurance.
- Damage to someone’s premises: If a client’s property is damaged while he or she is at someone’s premises, that person would be held liable. For example, if a client slips on a wet floor in the consultant’s home and drops their smartphone, the consultant would be liable for repairing or replacing the phone.
What Types of Insurance Policies Cover Property Damage?
There are two types of insurance policies that cover the costs associated with property damage. It is important to understand what each policy covers to know what compensation is entitled in the event of an unforeseen accident.
- Homeowners and Renters Insurance: Most policies cover the cost of repairing damaged property or replacing property based on the market value, whichever is less. In some cases, the insurance policy will pay the insured value of the home if it was destroyed, even if the market value is less than the insured value. However, the policy holder will have to pay extra for this type of coverage. Floods and earthquakes are usually excluded from typical homeowners’ policies, but the policy holder may be able to pay extra to insure against property damage caused by those types of natural disasters.
- Motor Vehicle Insurance: A typical auto insurance policy covers medical costs and property damage associated with a car accident. Liability covers injuries that another motorist suffered as a result of a car accident that was the driver’s fault. There are two main types of auto insurance:
- Collision: This covers property damage resulting from a collision with another vehicle or a fixed object. Once the deductible is met, this coverage ensures that the property damage is paid.
- Comprehensive: This covers damage that was caused by vandalism, theft, or something other than a collision. This may also cover damage caused if another driver crashes into a parked car.
How Does a Policy Impact the Claim?
When reviewing an insurance policy, whether it is a homeowner’s or auto policy, there are two important dollar amounts someone needs to consider, including the following:
- Policy limit: This is the maximum compensation that can be received from an insurance policy. Most policies are written so that the insurer is required to pay the lesser of the following two options:
- The cost to repair the damaged property to the condition it was in prior to the accident
- The market value of the property before it was damaged
- Deductible amount: This is the amount the policy holder is responsible for paying before they receive compensation from the insurance company. For example, if there is a $500 deductible and the cost to repair a vehicle is $1,500, the insurer will pay $1,000 after the $500 deductible is met.
What is the Deadline for Filing a Claim for Property Damage?
In the state of California, the statute of limitations for filing a property damage claim is three years. This deadline applies any time someone seeks compensation for damaged or destroyed property. If the deadline is missed, it is unlikely that the claim will be accepted. There are exceptions to this rule, including if the claimant is out of state during the three-year period, and if they were under the age of 18. A skilled property damage lawyer can review the case with the claimant and ensure that they file the claim within the statute of limitations, or determine if they qualify for an extension.
Los Angeles Property Damage Lawyers at ACTS Law Help Clients Seek Compensation for Property Damage
If your home or vehicle was damaged and you wish to file a property damage claim, do not hesitate to contact the Los Angeles property damage lawyers at ACTS Law. We will closely review your policy and walk you through every step of the claims process. Our skilled legal team has a proven track record of negotiating with insurance companies and reaching successful outcomes for our clients. We will work closely with you so that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at or contact us online.
Located in San Diego and Los Angeles, we serve clients throughout Orange County and Los Angeles County, including Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Malibu, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Hidden Hills, Pasadena, San Marino, Brentwood, Encino, Newport Beach, and Foresthill.