What Happens if I Damage My Neighbor’s Property?
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If you accidentally cause damage to your neighbor’s property, then the liability portion of your homeowners insurance should cover you. Similarly, if your neighbor accidentally damages your property, their homeowners insurance should pay for your losses.
Learn how personal liability insurance works in a homeowners policy and the steps taken to file a claim.
What Happens if I’m Liable for Damaging My Neighbor's Property?
If you inadvertently cause damage to your neighbor's property, your homeowners insurance can come to your rescue via personal liability coverage.
Personal liability insurance will cover you if you accidentally damage your neighbor’s property. Here are a couple of scenarios when your homeowners coverage would kick in.
- Suppose a windstorm upturns your detached RV shelter, which crashes into your neighbor's residence. The impact breaks their windows and damages their exterior stucco wall. In such a case, your homeowners insurance would shoulder the costs for window replacement and stucco repair.
- Imagine you host a dinner party and your dog bites a guest’s phone, cracking the screen and breaking it beyond use. Your home insurance would replace the damaged device.
Most standard policies can cover your neighbor's losses up to $100,000 if you're held liable. However, given the potential magnitude of some claims, this may fall short. Thus, it is suggested that homeowners opt for coverages ranging between $300,000 and $500,000. It's worth noting that liability coverage doesn't require you to pay a deductible; hence, there are no immediate out-of-pocket expenses for filing a personal liability claim.
For enhanced protection, consider an umbrella policy. This can bridge the gap when claims surpass your primary policy's limits. For instance, if you incur $600,000 in damages but only possess $200,000 in liability insurance, a $1 million umbrella policy would safeguard you for the remaining $400,000.
Keep in mind that your liability coverage will include bodily injury protection as well. So, if Fiddo bites not only the guest’s phone but also their hand, your homeowners coverage should cover the medical costs.
When Won’t My Homeowners Insurance Cover Damages to My Neighbor's Property?
Your homeowners insurance won't provide coverage in every situation; an automobile-related accident is one such example. Should you run into your neighbor's front yard fountain with your car and destroy it, you would need to look to your auto insurance company for coverage.
Also, any harm caused by a home-based business to your neighbor or visitor would not necessarily be covered by your homeowners insurance either. However, if you have a home business insurance endorsement on your policy, then you should be protected.
And expect to forgo coverage should a non-family member cause damage or harm to a neighbor, such as a friend or perhaps a tenant who is renting a room from you.
Keep in mind that liability coverage is based on an accident occurring. For example, if you intentionally damage your neighbor’s property, then your home insurance carrier will likely deny coverage.
What Happens if My Neighbor Damages My Property?
You have the option to seek reparations from your neighbor should they cause damage to you or your property. However, you will likely need to file a claim with your own homeowners insurance company to receive compensation for your losses in a timely fashion.
Is It Covered by My Home Insurance Policy?
A standard policy will include dwelling coverage and other structures coverage, which will insure your home’s structure, sheds and fences if they are damaged by your neighbor. Your homeowners insurance provides protection for several types of damage that your neighbor may cause to your home, including:
- Fire and flood: Fires spreading from your neighbor's home and flood damage caused by things like your neighbor’s cracked irrigation pipes will be covered by your insurance. Naturally-occurring floods are typically excluded from policies.
- Accidental damage: Accidental damage, such as your neighbor bumping into one of your antique vases and smashing it, should be covered by your homeowners policy.
- Vandalism: Vandalism, such as graffiti and smashing windows, is typically covered by your home insurance as long as your home isn't vacant generally for 30 days or more.
In some cases, you may not be allowed to file a claim with your neighbor’s homeowners insurance company so you will need to file a claim with your own carrier to get covered for your losses (and they will later seek reimbursement from your neighbor’s carrier via a process called subrogation). However, this may be a matter you want to settle between you and your neighbor since filing a claim can result in your premium going up when you renew your policy.
Will My Neighbor’s Home Insurance Policy Cover It?
Assuming your neighbor has a homeowners policy, they should be able to cover damage to your home's structure through the liability portion of their plan. Vandalism, however, will not be covered by their home insurance because most home insurance policies exclude intentional acts of property damage. In a case like this, you may need to take legal action.
What Happens if They Won’t Accept Responsibility?
If your neighbor refuses to accept legal responsibility, you can sue your neighbor for damaging your property and recoup your losses that way.
What if I Can’t Prove They Damaged My Property?
Merely suspecting that your neighbor was at fault for damage to your property isn't sufficient; there must be tangible proof to back up any claims. For instance, if you believe a tree branch from your neighbor's property led to a broken window at your home, simply assuming or accusing won't help. To ensure their homeowners insurance covers the repair costs, you must provide evidence linking the damage to their actions, such as video footage.
How To File a Claim for Damage Caused by Your Neighbor
If you need to file a homeowners insurance claim for damages your neighbor caused to your property, follow the below steps.
- Document the damage: Take clear photos or videos of the damage as soon as you notice it. Gather any other evidence, such as receipts or invoices for items that were damaged. Maintain a written record of events, including dates, times and descriptions of what occurred.
- Speak with your neighbor: Approach the situation calmly and politely. Discuss your concerns, show them the evidence and talk about potential solutions. Consider mediation if possible.
- Contact your insurance provider: Provide all of the evidence. The insurance company will likely send a claim adjuster out to assess the damage.
- Accept the settlement: Your property damages will be reimbursed based on their actual cash value, which deducts for depreciation factors like age and wear and tear. You can accept this settlement and then use it to make the necessary repairs to your home or replace lost or damaged belongings.
How Do I Get Personal Liability Insurance?
When exploring insurance options, it's a good idea to gather three to five estimates from various providers. These companies typically need details about your residence, including its construction year, roof status, location and the number of people living there. Inputting this data multiple times can become time-consuming.
Thankfully, platforms like SmartFinancial simplify this for you. By completing a single questionnaire about your insurance preferences and budget, you can quickly find a tailored homeowners insurance plan that includes personal liability insurance. Begin your search now by entering your zip code below for a complimentary insurance estimate.