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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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If you have multiple vehicles, you may some day have the unfortunate luck to hit one of your cars with another. This can happen easily if you keep them parked in a narrow garage or if your spouse parks somewhere you’re not expecting. Although it can be very inconvenient to have a collision between two of your own vehicles, filing the claims should be fairly easy and it may actually be more affordable than you’d expect. Depending on the situation, you may or may not need to pay two separate deductibles, and if you have full coverage on both vehicles the damage should be covered.
If I Hit My Own Car, What Coverage is Used?
If you hit another person’s vehicle or property, the claim is paid under the liability coverage of the car you were driving. This does not apply to situations where you damage your own property, however, because you cannot be held liable to yourself. Essentially, because you cannot sue yourself for damage, you also cannot file a claim against your liability insurance.
Damage caused by an impact between two vehicles is paid under collision coverage. Each vehicle will need to carry collision in order to have repairs paid; if only one vehicle has collision, only that vehicle can be repaired. Vehicles that do not carry first-party coverages cannot recover for damage in this type of accident.
Bear in mind, however, that this only applies to vehicles that you own. If your husband’s vehicle is registered in his name and insured under a separate policy, you may be able to settle the claim under liability insurance for the at-fault vehicle. Additionally, if you are driving a vehicle borrowed from a friend or family member who does not live with you, that vehicle’s liability coverage will pay for the damage in most cases.
In all other situations, however, your liability insurance cannot be used to pay for damages to your own property. This includes your vehicle, home, mailbox and any other property you may damage with a vehicle. This is one reason why it’s a good idea to always maintain sufficient coverage on each of your vehicles; you never know when an accident may occur that can only be paid under collision coverage.
How is Liability Handled?
Whenever you hit your own vehicle, you must file a claim against each car’s policy. Fortunately, only one of these claims will be considered an at-fault collision; the other will be listed as not at fault. This means that only one claim will count as a point against your driving record and affect your insurance rates.
If the accident occurred between a parked and moving vehicle, the liability will be placed against the moving vehicle’s policy. If the accident occurred between two moving vehicles, such as when you are following a family member in traffic, an insurance adjuster would need to review the facts of the loss and make a liability determination.
Your rates may increase after an at-fault collision, including one between two of your own vehicles. Because the insurance company is paying for damage to two vehicles at once with no opportunity to recover the funds, your rates may increase more than they would after a single-car collision. The amount that your premium increases will vary depending on the cost of the claim; expensive repairs may lead to a higher premium increase than a minor collision.
Do I Owe a Deductible?
For the most part, you are responsible for paying the deductible for each vehicle you own that is involved in an auto accident, even if both are listed on the same policy. This deductible is due at the time repairs are completed and is paid directly to the body shop; this means that you can space out the repairs so that you don’t need to pay off the deductibles at the same time.
Some states and insurance companies handle these claims differently. In some situations, claims between two people with the same insurance company are called “cross files,” and the insurance company may choose to waive the deductible between cross files. In this case, both deductibles would be waived as long as you insure both vehicles with the same carrier.
Not all states allow deductible waivers for cross files, and not all insurance companies handle these the same way. Whenever you file a claim for your damage, be sure to check with the insurance company to see whether your deductible will be waived or not. They will be able to advise you about this issue and also provide you with the next steps of the claims process.