Understanding Mandatory Vehicle Property Damage Liability Insurance

If you drive, you should know that you do not need the same car insurance in every state. Various states have different requirements. Some states have very lax insurance requirements, while others have much more stringent ones.

You must get the insurance the law requires in your state before you buy a car and drive it. If you do not get the minimum insurance the law demands in that state, you can get a hefty fine if the police pull you over. Another driver or pedestrian can also sue you if you hit them and cause them harm.

Some states also have what the law calls a mandate of property damage liability insurance for drivers. Maybe your state has this, and you know all about it, but perhaps not. We’ll discuss this concept in detail right now since all drivers should understand it and its ramifications.

What Does Property Damage Liability Insurance Mean?

Property damage liability insurance means you have a policy that covers the damage if you are driving your car and you damage someone’s property. Let’s say you’re driving, and you lose vehicular control. You run off the road and smash through someone’s fence. You damage the fence, and you also tear up their yard with your car’s tires.

In this instance, unless someone swerved at you suddenly and caused your reaction, your property damage liability insurance ought to cover the damage you caused. Most states require this insurance, and they demand you have a minimum coverage amount.

You can also have more insurance than the law strictly requires. Better insurance policies typically cost more, but if you have a car wreck and damage someone’s property severely, you might feel glad you bought it. Better insurance means you might not pay anything out of pocket if the person whose property you damaged also sues you.

Why Might Someone Sue You Following a Car Wreck?

Let us again discuss the scenario where you lost control while on the road. Your car went through someone’s fence and tore up their yard. However, you also hit the property’s owner. Maybe you hit them while they crouched there, weeding their garden.

If you hurt the homeowner badly, your minimum required property damage liability insurance might cover the property damage, but that won’t pay the injured party’s medical bills. Your general auto liability policy will usually kick in at this point. In most states, the general auto liability insurance and the minimum property damage insurance differ.

However, your general auto liability insurance might not suffice. If you hurt the homeowner badly, they might need surgery, physical therapy, medication, X-rays, MRIs, etc. 

That’s when they might sue you. If they can establish you acted negligently, like if you drank alcohol before driving or you texted someone at the moment your car left the road, they’ll probably win their case against you.

How Can You Determine What Car Insurance Policies You Need?

In each state, you must do a little research and determine what insurance policies you need before you start driving. Most states need minimum property damage liability insurance and a more general auto liability policy. You might also look into things like non-owner car insurance. As the name implies, this covers you if someone besides yourself ever borrows your car and wrecks it.

Generally, when you buy a car, you can’t drive it off the lot until you show you’ve purchased the proper insurance. That’s why, even if you’re not entirely sure what kinds you need, you can find out when you lease or buy a new, used, or certified pre-owned vehicle.

The salesperson who sells you the car will know what insurance you need and the minimum amounts. They can usually help you contact an insurance company right there in their office before you drive off. The dealership must do this, or the law can hold them liable if you leave their lot with a new car and immediately hit someone or cause property damage.

Now that you know about the minimum vehicle property damage liability insurance, and also some of the other insurance varieties that exist, you should feel ready the next time you go car shopping in your state. You might grumble when you hand over your monthly payment, or quarterly or yearly if you set that up instead. However, you know those policies keep you safe, and if you ever cause an accident, you’ll feel relieved you got them when you did.

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