Property damage claims are common in some personal injury cases, including automobile accidents.
Such claims can also occur because of a natural disaster or other event. Property damage refers to an injury to real or personal property caused by someone’s negligence, willful destruction, or an act of nature.
Insurance companies offer policies that cover damage to property in a variety of situations. Insurance may include car insurance, homeowner's insurance, and liability insurance.
Filing a claim with the insurance company for property damage should be a straightforward process. However, obtaining a fair settlement for a property damage liability claim can be challenging, especially if the insurance company denies that its insured driver caused the car accident.
Car Insurance Requirements in Oklahoma
Oklahoma requires drivers to carry liability coverage. Minimum coverage for auto insurance in Oklahoma is:
- $25,000 for bodily injury to one person in an accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury to two or more people in an accident
- $25,000 property damage coverage
Therefore, if the damage to your vehicle exceeds $25,000, the maximum payment you can receive from the other driver's insurance company is $25,000, if the driver carries minimum coverage.
Optional Car Insurance Coverage You May Want to Consider
Liability insurance claims are not the only property damage claims filed with insurance companies.
Drivers may also file claims under their comprehensive insurance coverage or collision insurance coverage. Comprehensive and collision coverages are optional. You must have purchased the coverage before the damage occurs to file a claim.
Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle from sources other than a car accident. This type of car insurance covers damage from natural disasters, theft, and vandalism. Collision insurance covers damage to your vehicle from a car crash that is your fault.
Most lenders require car owners to have both collision and comprehensive coverage to protect the lender in case of property damage to the vehicle.
Filing a Property Damage Claim with the Insurance Company
After an accident or damage to your vehicle, you need to notify your insurance provider immediately. You can open a claim with your insurance provider to begin the process of receiving compensation for a property damage claim. If another driver caused the crash, you need to file a claim with the other driver's insurance company.
The insurance company assigns an adjuster to investigate the property damage claim. The adjuster determines how the damage occurred and whether the insurance policy covers the damage.
For example, let's assume you were involved in a truck accident. The adjuster investigates the accident's cause to determine if the insured driver was negligent in causing the car accident. If so, the insurance company may agree to compensate you for property damage.
The adjuster evaluates the damage to your vehicle and issues a settlement offer. Before accepting an insurance settlement for property damages, it is wise to obtain two or three estimates from independent sources. Having independent estimates helps you know whether the insurance company is making a fair offer to settle the property damage claim.
Always ask about compensation for the depreciation in value of your vehicle caused by the accident. Compensation for depreciation can be difficult to obtain, but it is an important component of a property damage claim. Your vehicle's value will depreciate because of the accident.
You will need estimates of the depreciation amount from two or three reputable sources if you want to fight for this type of property damage compensation.
If your vehicle is totaled, the insurance company should pay you the vehicle's fair market value. Again, obtaining estimates from independent sources can ensure that you receive a fair amount for your property damage claim.
Denying Property Damage Claims
An adjuster may determine that you caused the car accident or an intervening event caused the car crash. If so, the adjuster may deny the property damage claim. The adjuster may also deny claims based on other reasons.
If an insurance company denies your property damage claim, seek legal advice immediately. In most cases, claims related to property damage settle quickly. Personal injury claims take longer to settle.
When an insurance company denies a property damage claim, it means that the company is not accepting liability for the claim. In that case, the company is going to deny the personal injury claim, too. An accident victim is likely to face a challenging and prolonged fight to prove liability and fault for the accident.
If you have questions about a personal injury or property damage claim, you should consult with an experienced attorney.