Auto Insurance Basics: Property Damage Liability

Property damage liabilty insurance is a requirement in most states. Property damage liability coverage's definition is insurance that pays when you are at fault and damage someone else's property. Even in states where it isn't required or where the required amount of coverage are low, property damage liabilty is recommended at a level that could pay for repairing or replacing a car. If the property damage exceeds insurance coverage, you could be sued and have to pay the remaining costs out of pocket. Learn more auto property damage liability insurance below.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about auto insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and ...

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Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

UPDATED: Jul 19, 2021

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When it comes to automobile liability coverage, there are two basic components to it: bodily injury liability, and property damage liability. This article is going to discuss the latter in-depth.

If you’ve ever wondered exactly what liability property damage coverage is for, and how it works in the event of an accident, just keep reading. You’ll learn the answers to all of these questions and more.

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Costs for Property Damage Liability

Obviously, the cost of your property damage liability insurance is one of the most important things to consider when you’re figuring out how much of this coverage to purchase.

Luckily, the costs usually aren’t that extreme. Some companies, depending on the state you live in, May charge little more than a 7-9 percent increase in your overall monthly premium.

Car Insurance Premiums by PDL LimitLegend: Higher PDL Coverage Lower PDL Coverage North DakotaWest VirginiaMichiganNew JerseyIdaho 153045607590105120135150165180195$81$62$17$21$108$85$202$170$50$36

Another factor that will affect the overall cost of your property damage liability coverage is the minimum amount of coverage required by your state.

In some places, like California or New Jersey, the minimum mandatory limit is $5,000 of PDL coverage. Many states across the country, including Texas, New Hampshire, and the Carolinas – have their PDL coverage limits set as high as $25,000.

Furthermore, there are many states in between that averaged about $10,000 to $15,000 per policy. Obviously, the more coverage you are legally required to buy, the more expensive your monthly premium will be.

At the same time, however, lower property damage liability limits — although they may save you a little bit of money in the long run — could end up costing you big time if you get into a serious accident and your coverage isn’t enough to pay for incurred expenses.

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Determining the Right Amount of Property Damage Liability Coverage to Buy

It can be difficult to determine how much property damage liability insurance coverage you should purchase. On the one hand, you want to buy enough to protect yourself and your finances in the event that you cause a serious accident.

On the other hand, you don’t want to waste money on the increased premiums you’ll get from purchasing coverage you don’t need.

It mostly depends on your own financial situation than anything else. If you have a lot of assets that you don’t want getting seized and liquidated in order to pay for property damage caused by your vehicle, then purchasing more coverage rather than less would be a pretty good idea.

But if you’re on a tight budget, then purchasing less coverage could help you out a bit. When it comes to liability coverage, the price of repairing your own vehicle does not factor into the equation because you will never personally be filing a liability insurance claim on behalf of yourself.

Liability coverage only pays for the damage you cause if the accident is your fault (either partially or completely). It will never pay for your own property damage expenses.

Auto Insurance Premiums by PDL Coverage LimitLegend: Higher PDL Coverage Lower PDL Coverage LouisianaOhioIllinoisNorth CarolinaPennsylvania 153045607590105120135150165180195210225240255270285300315330345360$373$315$130$92$120$88$206$191$122$89


If you get into an accident, regardless of fault, there are certain circumstances under which you may have to file a claim against your collision coverage instead of having your vehicle repaired or replaced by the other driver’s property damage liability coverage.

For example:

  • The accident is 100% your fault. If the accident is completely your fault, you won’t be able to file a claim against the other driver’s property damage liability coverage. You’ll have to pay for the repairs yourself, which means either going completely out of pocket or filing a claim against your own collision coverage.
  • If you are found partially at fault. Depending on your state’s laws, you may still be able to file a claim against the other driver’s PDL, but you may not receive enough money to cover the cost of repairs. This is another situation in which your collision coverage will come in handy.
  • The other driver doesn’t have enough coverage. If the accident was 100 percent the other driver’s fault, but they don’t have enough collision coverage purchased to satisfy your claim, this will also leave you in a situation where going out of pocket or filing a collision coverage claim are your only options.

Regardless of the amount of coverage you purchase, you’re still going to want to find a fairly priced premium for your auto insurance policy. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to shop around, and we would be happy to assist you with that.

Our quote generator can provide you with some of the most accurate quotes you can find on the internet today. Just enter your ZIP code to save instantly!

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