Is private property covered under car insurance?

Depending on the circumstances, private property may be covered under car insurance. If you cause damage to another’s private property in an accident, your liability insurance will cover it. If you damage your own private property, you will need comprehensive car insurance to cover the property damage and any personal belongings that may have been damaged inside the vehicle as well. Read our guide to learn more about when private property is covered under auto insurance.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 26, 2020

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Things to know...

  • Private property can be damaged in a car accident and can create costly losses
  • Drivers are financially responsible for all types of damages they cause to others while behind the wheel, including damage to private property
  • Your car insurance may pay for some private property damages

Everything from a collision to theft can result in private property damage or loss, and this includes your own losses as well as losses to others. Legally, drivers in all states are financially liable for the damages they cause to others when they are operating their vehicle, and this includes private property damage.

The good news is that your car insurance policy may pay for some of the damages that you may currently be faced with. Make sure you compare rates to make sure you are getting the best rate for the coverage you need.

How Private Property Can Be Damaged


Private property can include everything from your own computer or other personal items that you may be hauling around in your car to another person’s house, car, trees, mailbox, and more. As you can see, there is a potential for huge personal property damage losses if you are in an accident or if your vehicle is stolen while personal property is in it. Filing an auto insurance claim could help you to recoup the losses or pay for related expenses that you are responsible for.

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What Your Car Insurance Policy May Include

Before you file an auto insurance claim to pay for a private property loss, you need to understand how your car insurance policy works. Some types of private property losses may be included in a standard liability policy, but others can only be included in a claim if you purchased optional coverage on your policy.

When You Cause the Accident


Liability insurance is a special type of coverage that is usually required by law in most states. This coverage pays for the damages that you cause to others, and it usually has a private property component. However, there are instances when a driver’s coverage limit is lower than the total cost of the damages. When this happens, the driver is responsible for paying the difference out of his or her own pocket.

Damage to Your Own Personal Property

While most drivers have private property coverage included in their liability insurance, damage to your own private property may not always be included in standard coverage.

This type of coverage is usually added by the insured as optional coverage when the policy is set up.

It may include damage to any personal items you are toting around in the car or damage to your own home or other property that you cause while operating the car.

In the Event of Theft

Some vehicle owners, unfortunately, have expensive private property stolen out of their vehicle. You may be able to file a claim against your insurance coverage for this type of loss if you previously purchased personal property coverage. This is an optional type of coverage that is available for a rather affordable price for most drivers.

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Understanding the Insurance Claims Process

In order to obtain compensation for your various types of private property losses, you will need to file a claim against your car insurance policy. While this is a straightforward process, there are instances when it does not make financial sense to file a claim. A closer look will reveal why this may be true in some cases.

Filing Your Claim


To initiate the claims process, you will need to contact your insurer by phone or file the claim over the Internet. The insurer will gather details about the event and will set up a time for an adjustor to visit with you and examine the loss. The claim will then need to be reviewed internally before it can be approved and before you may receive any compensation for the claim.

Estimating the Value of Your Loss

The total cost of your loss will be reviewed by the adjustor, and this includes vehicle repairs, medical bills, property damage, and more. You may need to document or prove the value of any personal items that were damaged in the event in order to get insurance benefits to compensate you for the loss. For example, you may need to prove the type of computer that was stolen from your car and document its current replacement value.

Paying Your Deductible

The final payment for your claim is calculated by taking the gross amount of your losses and expenses and subtracting your insurance deductible. You must pay a deductible each time you file a new claim against your car insurance policy. There are instances when the cost of the damages or losses is very close to the deductible amount. If this is the case, it may not make financial sense to file a claim.

Remember that your insurance premium can also increase when you file a claim, and the elevated rate may remain in place for several years. When you compare this expense and your deductible amount against the total value of your claim, you can better determine if it makes sense to file an auto insurance claim.

When You May Need to Adjust Your Coverage Limits

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It is wise to review and update your coverage types and limits periodically. Some drivers may regularly tote personal items in their vehicle, and buying coverage that includes the full value of these items is a wise idea. For example, if you regularly transport expensive computer equipment in your car, it makes sense to increase your private property coverage accordingly and to document the value of these items.

You may also adjust your coverage limits if you drive frequently. After all, you may be more likely to cause damage to someone else’s personal property if this is the case.

How to Get Quotes the Easy Way

Any time you make adjustments to your coverage types and limits, it is wise to request new quotes from several insurance companies. This will help you to identify the best rates available for your new coverage.

While you could contact each insurance company directly during normal business hours, many drivers find that it is more convenient to fill out online applications for quotes. This is because online applications can be completed at any time of day or night.

Private property can be damaged or stolen, and you need the right coverage in place to pay for related expenses. Take the time to review your existing policy, and update it with beneficial coverage as needed today. Don’t miss out on our free insurance comparison tool below!

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