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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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No one likes to be involved in an auto accident, but an accident involving both your house and car can be extremely inconvenient and embarrassing. These accidents happen frequently, especially when the vehicle is parked in a garage at night. Something as simple as stepping on the accelerator instead of the brake or putting the car in the wrong gear can cause your vehicle to lurch into the wall of your house or garage.
Whenever this happens, you will need to contact both your homeowner’s and vehicle insurance companies. If you carry both policies with the same carrier, you should be able to file both claims at the same time over the phone. Unfortunately, the collision would be considered an at-fault accident against your insurance and your liability coverage will not pay for the damage to your home.
What Coverage Applies to this Accident?
If the vehicle sustains damage as a result of colliding with your home or another fixed object, the damage will be paid under collision coverage. Any deductible that you owe on your coverage will be your responsibility and the claim will count against you as an at-fault collision. This is true even if you were not the one driving; anyone who has permission to drive your car can affect your driving record in this way.
If you do not have collision coverage on your vehicle, the insurance company will not be able to cover the vehicle’s repairs. This is because you are at fault for the accident. It’s still a good idea to contact your insurance company to advise them of the situation, especially of the damage is severe, but you do not have to file a claim if you do not have the necessary coverage.
Depending on the amount of damage your home sustains, you may wish to file a claim on your homeowner’s policy as well. The damage would be covered under a separate claim from your vehicle claim and separate coverages and deductibles would apply. The deductible for homeowner’s insurance is often fairly high, and it may not be worthwhile filing a claim against the homeowner’s insurance if the damage is minor.
Homeowner’s insurance companies can be very picky about claims, and minor claims may cause your policy to be cancelled. On the other hand, major damage that you cannot pay for out of pocket needs to be addressed and it might be worth filing a claim in these situations. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but remember that you must file two separate claims in order to have both the vehicle and the home repaired.
Why Liability Insurance Won’t Pay for Your Home Damage
Liability insurance is required by the state. In order to operate your vehicle, you need to maintain liability coverage. The purpose of this is to pay for damage that you cause to another person’s property. In essence, it protects you from lawsuits for damage that you cause.
Your liability insurance will not extend to your own property because you cannot be held liable to yourself. Since you cannot sue yourself for damage, you cannot file a claim against your liability insurance. In order to cover repairs to your home and vehicle, you will need to file a claim against each policy and use the respective first-party coverage to pay for repairs. If you do not have first-party coverage on your vehicle or if your homeowner’s insurance does not cover damage caused by vehicles, you will need to pay for the damage out of your own pocket.
There are a few exceptions to this rule:
— If you hit someone else’s house, such as a friend or neighbor
— If you rent the home or apartment you’re staying in rather than owning it outright
— If the home is in the name of a family member and you do not technically live there full-time
— If you are driving another person’s vehicle at the time of impact
Depending on the exact circumstances, you may be able to cover the damage to the home under the automobile’s liability insurance. In most cases, however, the rule is the same: If you could not sue for damage, you cannot file a liability insurance claim.
This is an excellent reason to maintain full coverage insurance, especially if your vehicle is new or valuable. You never know what may happen, and maintaining an appropriate level of coverage on all of your property is the best way to ensure that you will be protected against the unknown.