Door-dinged a car? Good news is no deductible

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Question: I was parked, and my door hit the car parked next to me because it was so windy. It did some damage to the other car. How does this work? Am I negligent? Would the damage to this other car go under my comprehensive or collision insurance, as I have deductibles for each one and want to know what to expect.

Answer: The good news is you don't have to pay a deductible to get the other car fixed. Your collision and comprehensive cover your own vehicle for damages, not other cars that you damage.

When you damage another person's property, it is the property damage liability portion of your car insurance policy that will be used for their claims. There is no deductible with this coverage for you, or the damaged party, to pay. (See " The parking-lot car insurance claim ")

It's very likely that your insurer will find you negligent and accept the other person's claim for the damage your door did to their car. The basic thought on this is while you didn't slam open your door on purpose you still were negligent by not being able to control the door. This type of situation isn't considered an act of God like some believe. (See "'Acts of God' and your car insurance")

An act of God is an event due to natural causes that couldn't be prevented by exercising caution on the part of a human. For example, a hail storm that dents your vehicle's roof is not something you can control. A door is controllable, and the insurer will normally say if you exercised enough caution and foresight on opening your door it wouldn't have hit the car next to you.

Since this was a minor accident, the resulting claim may not affect your auto insurance rates. It will depend upon state laws and your insurer's rating system, but, in some cases, your rates won't be raised if the total damages are under a certain amount, such as $1,000.

Or your rates may rise, especially if you've already made other claims recently.

If your car's door was damaged in the incident, then you could make a claim under your collision coverage. Your car's damage is due to your door colliding with something, so the claim falls under this coverage and not your comprehensive coverage. Your collision deductible would be due.

If you find that the cost of the repair is less than your deductible amount, there is no need to make a claim since your insurer won't cover costs under that amount. 



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Personal Finance , Insurance

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