I was in a 3-car accident. The adjuster for the driver who was at fault said they have a limited property damage policy limit. What does that mean?
If the insurance adjuster tells you that their insured has a “limited property damage policy limit” or that “there’s a property damage limits issue,” that means that the adjuster suspects that the defendant’s property damage policy limit won’t be enough to cover all of the damage to property that the defendant caused.
In California, the lowest property damage policy limit a driver can have is $5,000. If the defendant caused damage to more than one car, or if the defendant also caused damage to a building or knocked over a pole or fence, the combined property damage claims can exceed the defendant’s property damage policy limit.
If the defense adjuster tells you there’s a limits issue, you should have your property damage claim handled by your own auto insurance carrier, provided you have collision coverage. If you don’t have collision coverage, you’re stuck with pursuing the claim against the at-fault driver’s carrier. If there are multiple property damage claims being presented, you should know that it can take many months until the adjuster actually pays you. That’s because the adjuster must wait until all property damage claims are received before the adjuster can apportion the policy limit. The policy limit will be allocated pro rata to the claimants.
You should know that If the defendant’s adjuster tells you that there’s a property damage limits issue, that means the defendant also likely has a low bodily injury policy limit. The lowest it can be in California is $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident. If multiple people are making an injury claim, then there’s a good chance that the bodily injury policy limits will be insufficient. Hopefully you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Read more about uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage here.
If you were injured in a car accident and you are concerned about whether the defendant has sufficient policy limits to cover your claim, contact McGee, Lerer & Associates for a free consultation.