Does car insurance cover accidents on private property?

A car accident on a private driveway or parking lot is likely on private property. Full coverage auto insurance covers accidents on private property. Your car insurance company considers factors such as accident forgiveness and repair costs when deciding if your rates will increase after a private property accident. In some cases, the property owner may be held liable for accidents.

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D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Written by D. Gilson, PhD
Professor & Published Author D. Gilson, PhD

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Dec 14, 2021

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The Highlights

  • Full coverage auto insurance covers you in an accident on private property.
  • Insurers commonly consider full coverage as comprehensive + collision coverage.
  • Your auto insurance rates may increase if you’re involved in a private property accident based on risk.
  • There are situations when the property owner may be held financially liable for accidents on private property.

Not all car accidents are equal from an insurance standpoint. Where an accident occurs has a big impact on what type of auto insurance coverage pays for the damage.

Accidents that happen somewhere other than a public roadway, such as a parking lot or driveway, may become complicated.

In these situations, does auto insurance cover accidents on private property? The answer depends on whether your insurance policy includes full coverage.

This type of coverage, which is a combination of comprehensive coverage and collision coverage, ensures your auto insurance covers accidents on private property.

Having insurance that covers you everywhere you drive is important. Maybe it’s time to compare car insurance so you understand the benefits offered by full coverage.

Looking for auto insurance that covers accidents on private property? Enter your ZIP code in the box above to get free auto insurance quotes.

How do I know my car is on private property?

Before we examine how insurance comes into play in a private property accident, let’s get an idea of what private property means.

Law Insider defines private property as the following:

“Any property under the control, management, or operation of any person other than a governmental agency.”

We can see the scope of private property is quite large by this definition. A car accident that happens away from public roads or government property likely occurs on private property.

Let’s say your vehicle bumps into another vehicle on the driveway of a friend’s house. In this scenario, the car accident is on a private driveway and therefore occurred on private property.

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What types of car insurance cover damage on private property?

It’s important to know what car insurance coverage you have to determine if you’re covered in a car accident on private property.

Full coverage car insurance covers private property accidents. It also covers damage your vehicle sustains while parked on private property.

In most instances, full coverage insurance is an auto insurance policy that offers comprehensive and collision coverage. Full coverage insurance will not pay for property damage beyond your car such as costs to repair your garage if you collide with it.

There are three main types of car insurance coverage. You should be aware of the damages covered and not covered by each one in a private property accident.

Liability Car Insurance Coverage

Liability coverage pays for damage to someone else, but not for your damage. Your liability insurance is what pays for the vehicle damage and injuries sustained by other drivers if you are at fault in an accident.

Liability insurance doesn’t pay for damage your car incurs, including on private property. Every state in the US except Virginia and New Hampshire requires drivers to carry liability insurance.

Collision Car Insurance Coverage

Collision coverage pays for damage to your car. This is true even if you’re at fault in an accident.

In the event of an accident on a public roadway where another driver is at fault, their insurance pays for your damage.

The role of collision insurance can get more complicated in private property accidents.

Police don’t often respond to accidents on private property when only minor damage and injury are sustained. In this scenario, no driver is held at fault in a multi-vehicle accident.

Suppose you’re pulling into a parking space at the grocery store. Your vehicle is sideswiped by another driver reversing out of an adjacent parking space. No one is hurt, and your vehicle suffers only a few scratches or dings.

The other driver may have caused the damage. However, no driver is at fault from an insurance standpoint because the incident occurred on private property.

You would file a claim with your insurance company and get paid by your collision coverage. If the other driver’s vehicle was damaged, they would file the claim with their insurance company.

Comprehensive Car Insurance Coverage

Comprehensive coverage pays for damage your car incurs in a non-collision incident. Situations where this type of insurance comes into play are often Acts of God or perpetrated by criminals.

For example, comprehensive coverage pays for vehicle damage caused by the following:

  • hail
  • flood
  • tornado
  • fire
  • theft
  • vandalism

Comprehensive coverage may pay for certain damages your vehicle sustains on private property. This is the case if, say, your car gets smashed by an overturned tree while parked on your driveway.

Will my rates increase if I have an auto insurance covered accident on private property?

The impact a car accident on private property has on your insurance rates depends on several factors. Which driver is at fault, where you live, and which car insurance company you have may all be taken into account.

Accident forgiveness is now offered by many insurance companies. With accident forgiveness, your insurer will not raise your rates when you have your first accident, even if you’re at fault.

How much your rates may increase following a private property accident is up to your car insurance company. The riskier your insurer considers you, the more they may raise your rate.

Fortunately, most accidents on private property involve minor damage. This means repair costs tend to be reasonable.

If your insurance company is limited to paying only a small claim, your rates may not rise much if at all.

What happens if I have a car accident on private property with no insurance?

You may shoulder considerable financial responsibility for damages if you’re involved in a car accident on private property without insurance.

In Virginia and New Hampshire–the two states that don’t legally require car insurance coverage–the at fault driver is required to pay out of pocket for the damages and injuries they cause.

They may also have to report the accident to the state’s DMV or face a license suspension or other penalties.

Uninsured drivers are still personally on the hook for damage expenses in states that do require car insurance coverage. They also face legal consequences.

Some of the consequences for driving without insurance include temporary or permanent loss of license, fines, and even jail time.

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Is the owner of private property liable when an accident occurs?

There are cases when a property owner may be held liable for car accidents that happen on private property. If your car slides off a private road and into a ditch, the property owner could be responsible for damage to your car.

When determining liability, factors such as lack of signs, poor visibility, and the property owner’s insurance may be evaluated. If the property owner captures the accident on video camera, an insurer may require the footage for evidence in liability decisions.

Your car insurance company can answer questions you have about liability involving private property accidents.

Accidents on properties like private driveways and parking lots come with unique insurance considerations. Knowing how auto insurance covers accidents on private property is crucial.

Full coverage auto insurance covers you if you have a car accident on private property. Compare free auto insurance quotes today. Enter your ZIP code in the box below to get started.

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