If you are in an accident, your first thought is most likely about getting your car fixed. Until you realize that your brand new laptop computer also sustained damage in the crash. Can you receive compensation for personal property damaged in a car accident? The answer is maybe, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
The Other Driver's Insurance Company
If the other driver was at fault for the accident, his insurance company may be responsible for paying for your damaged personal property. Generally speaking, you will be entitled to collect either the amount required in order to repair the items, or the market value of the items at the time of the accident. This is not the same as the cost required to replace them, however, and will not take into account the sentimental or other non-tangible values these items hold. And it is important to note that the total amount cannot exceed the policy limits.
Your Automobile Insurance Company
Your own automobile insurance company provides insurance to protect against claims of liability and property damage from another party. It usually will not cover the replacement costs for your personal property. Many automobile policies specifically exclude personal property coverage, limit the types of personal property covered, or set specific limits on the amount of coverage available.
Note: This does not mean that you have no options in regards to your own insurance company; check your policy to see what it covers.
Homeowners or Renters Insurance
While your auto insurance may not cover your personal property, if you have homeowners or renters insurance, there may be coverage options available. Be sure to review the terms of your policy, as certain items may be limited in terms of location, but for the most part, your personal property protection should travel with you (and your property). Be mindful, however, that deductibles will apply and that the insurance company will again only be responsible to pay whatever the contractual limit is, whether that is replacement value or fair market value.
If you are going to make a personal property claim, it is imperative that you are prepared to present evidence of the condition of the items both before and after the accident. This may affect the value determination and in the world of digital pictures on cellphones, taking annual pictures of high value personal property is a good insurance policy in and of itself. In addition, expect that if you are eligible to bring a claim, you will need to present receipts, advertisements for similar products, and other proof of the value of the item.
If you were involved in an automobile accident and your personal property sustained damage, be sure to do your research to prove the value of your personal property.