UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Property damage liability insurance is required in most states. This type of insurance is included under all basic auto insurance plans. It covers the cost of repairing damage you cause to other property – like another driver’s vehicle.
How Does Property Damage Liability Insurance Work?
Property damage liability insurance covers the cost of repairing damages to another person’s property as a result of a vehicle accident. If you drive your car through someone’s fence, for example, then property damage liability insurance can cover the costs of repairing that fence. If you crash into someone’s Mercedes-Benz SUV and cause $50,000 worth of damage, then property damage liability insurance will cover you too.
Essentially, property damage liability insurance covers all of the damage you cause in an accident except for people-related damages. Property damage liability insurance does not cover lost wages, medical bills, and other costs. These damages fall under a different type of insurance called bodily injury liability insurance.
All basic liability car insurance plans will include bodily injury liability insurance and property damage liability insurance. Most states require you to have a certain amount of both coverage options in order to legally drive on the road.
What Does Property Damage Liability Insurance Cover?
Property damage liability insurance covers the cost of repairing or replacing any property you damage while driving. If you are at-fault for a collision, then your PDL policy will cover the costs of repairing or replacing the other driver’s vehicle.
PDL insurance can also cover lawsuits. If the other driver sues you for damages after an accident, then your PDL insurance can cover any liabilities that come from that lawsuit.
Things covered by property damage liability insurance include:
- Damage to other vehicles
- Damage to other property
What Does Property Damage Liability Insurance Not Cover?
Many drivers are surprised to learn that property damage liability insurance doesn’t necessarily cover all property damage in an accident.
For example, PDL insurance will not cover damage to your own vehicle or your own property. If you are at-fault for a collision and only have PDL insurance, then you will need to pay for car repairs out of pocket. If the other driver was at-fault, however, then you could make a claim to cover your own vehicle through the other driver’s PDL insurance. If you have a busted windshield or significant body damage to your own vehicle after an accident, however, then you will not be covered unless you have collision or comprehensive coverage.
The main things not covered by property damage liability insurance include:
- Damage to your own vehicle
- Damage to your own property
- Medical bills, lost wages, and similar expenses
Medical bills and lost wages fall under bodily injury liability insurance coverage. Damage to your own vehicle and property, meanwhile, would fall under collision coverage or comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage and comprehensive coverage are optional. You are not required to have car insurance that covers damage to your own vehicle.
Should I Get Property Damage Liability Insurance?
Property damage liability insurance is a legal requirement in every state in the United States (except for New Hampshire). If you want to legally drive on the road, then you are legally required to buy property damage liability insurance. If you do not have property damage liability insurance, then you are driving without insurance.
Property damage liability insurance is included on all basic liability car insurance plans. Even if you get the cheapest level of car insurance, your car insurance policy will still have property damage liability coverage.
How Much Property Damage Liability Insurance Should I Get?
All states require you to have a certain amount of property damage liability insurance as a minimum. In most states, this amount ranges from $10,000 to $50,000 of coverage per accident.
Some drivers choose to exceed these basic minimums. In Florida, for example, you’re required to only have $10,000 of property damage liability coverage.
If you get into an accident with another vehicle, then it doesn’t take much damage to exceed this bare minimum amount. If you get a luxury SUV, for example, then you could be on the hook for $50,000 in repairs or replacement costs. Or, if you get into an accident with multiple cars, then costs can quickly add up.
For all of these reasons, it may be in your best interest to upgrade your property damage liability insurance coverage. It’s up to you to determine how much car insurance you wish to buy based on your budget and aversion to risk. Carrying the bare minimum required levels of property damage liability insurance, however, can leave you underinsured in most accidents.
How to Compare Property Damage Liability Insurance Quotes
When you request a car insurance quote online, you’re getting a quote on property damage liability insurance as well. All car insurance quotes include property damage liability insurance because it’s legally required in all states (except New Hampshire).
The specific amount of property damage liability insurance included on each plan will vary. You might get a quote for $50 per month for property damage liability insurance that meets your state’s bare minimum requirements, for example, and then see a quote for $70 per month for insurance that gives you up to $1 million in property damage liability insurance.
When comparing car insurance policies, you’ll typically see a policy expressed like this:
These numbers refer to the amount of coverage you get with that policy. The plan above, for example, has:
- $10,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
- $30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
- $20,000 of property damage liability coverage
In this situation, your car insurance would cover a maximum of $30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage in each accident, including medical bills and lost wages. Your car insurance would also cover $20,000 of property damage per accident, including damage to another person’s vehicle or property in a collision where you were at-fault.
Bodily injury liability coverage is split into different rates “per accident” and “per person”. That means your insurance company will cover each individual driver or passenger up to, say, $10,000 before coverage cuts off. Property damage liability coverage does not work this way: it’s not split into rates “per accident” or “per person”. You get $20,000 of property damage liability coverage per claim.
All basic liability car insurance plans include property damage liability coverage. This coverage is legally required to drive on the road. It covers damage you inflict on the property of other people – including their vehicles and other property. It does not, however, cover your own car damage, nor does it cover medical bills.
Compare basic liability car insurance plans today and pick the best car insurance for your unique needs and budget.