In an accident, you know what information to get from the other driver and how to handle an auto insurance claim. However, what happens when you end up damaging city property, or got hit by another driver and damaged city property?
Increasingly, cities have been cracking down on city property damage; they will find and fine you for the cost of replacing the property including labor costs. Do you know if your auto insurance policy covers city property damage in a collision? If you live in any state except New Hampshire, it’s likely that your auto insurance policy does cover property damage. Every state, except New Hampshire, has made it a requirement to have property damage liability insurance included in your insurance coverage. California requires a minimum of $5,000 for property damage liability coverage.
So, the next question is, “What will it cost for damaging city property?” Many cities will send you a bill for the cost of the property itself along with any labor costs, overtime, and/or any costs of engineering. Your next step would be to give the city your insurer’s information and make a claim. You’ll want to be sure of how much will be covered by your insurance because costs could reach up to a hundred thousand dollars, depending on what property you damaged. Below are a few previously recorded costs of city property damages in a California city:
• Traffic Signal. $3,000 to replace; however another state Department of Transportation said that the replacement cost could be up to $100,000 if you damage the traffic signals overhead.
• Fire Hydrant. The fine for damaging a fire hydrant is $1,000; however some cities may also tack on the cost of wasted water if you hit a hydrant and water bursts.
• Stop Sign. $511 to fully replace. The sign itself is approximately only $50, but the cost of city workers laboring to install the sign could run you $70-$90 per hour.
• Parking Meter. $700 to get an undamaged meter to replace the one that was damaged. Again, city workers’ labor costs and replacement of the property will be billed for damaging a parking meter.
• USPS Mail Box. Your insurance claim will be for $750 to replace a damaged blue mailbox.
• Concrete Barrier. Depending on where in California, the estimate for replacing a concrete barrier is $42 to $130 per linear foot. You’ll be paying an average of $414 for a 6-foot damaged section of concrete barrier.
If you’re wondering if your auto insurance premium will go up, yes, it will most likely increase when you damage city property. As always, it is best to practice safe driving and if you find yourself uncertain in this situation, contact your insurer for the next steps.