The challenge with property damage claims, as with any personal injury claim, is that the insurance companies are your adversary, not the person or people who actually damaged your property. Our attorneys will face the insurance companies with confidence and competence, so you don’t have to wonder if you’re going to get what you deserve.
Property damage claims are generally handled through insurance companies and are based on the contract of insurance that covers a property damage loss or claim. Property damage losses generally arise over auto, business or homeowner claims.
All auto owners are required to have insurance coverage for injury liability and property damage. In Arizona, you must possess at least $10,000 in property damage liability. This extends to motorcycles, mopeds and even golf carts. This is intended to ensure that you have a modicum of financial protection in case you are at fault in an auto accident.
Your insurer is obligated to defend your interests if you have coverage and you are allegedly at fault in a car accident. In most cases, your insurer will pay for the damages to the other motorist’s vehicle or defend if there is a dispute over liability. This responsibility is contractually required and usually requires no out-of-pocket cost to you other than the premiums you normally pay, though it can vary depending on your policy.
You have the option of obtaining collision insurance if you own the car outright; otherwise, you will probably have to purchase it as a condition of the loan you received to purchase the vehicle. The insurance covers you for even single vehicle accidents or for theft, window or body damages. Insurers usually must pay you or replace the vehicle if it is a total loss.
A third party claim arises when your vehicle is damaged as a result of the carelessness, negligence or intentional act of another person. In these cases, you may have the option of having your own insurer pay for the damages and a rental, if needed; having the responsible party pay you directly for the damages as well as your rental and deductible; or for a replacement vehicle if your car was a total loss.
You generally have the right to take your car to whatever body shop you want. You will receive an estimate for the damage from your own insurer and the shop will be paid directly. Or, you may receive a check for the damages from the other party’s insurer with the option of having the repairs done or not.
First party claims involve your own insurer since it is a claim either brought against you or because you are bringing an uninsured or underinsured claim against your policy. This concerns circumstances where the at-fault driver lacked insurance or sufficient property damage insurance to cover your losses. You usually would have had to purchase uninsured and underinsured coverage separately, as these are not required coverages in all states.
In these cases, you may have to pay a deductible, which depends on the policy you purchased, but you may not be entitled to a rental value or to the diminished value of your auto. As indicated above, your insurer has the contractual obligation to pay for the damages to the other party or to defend you, as long as the policy you purchased provides coverage for the accident at issue.