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If you’ve ever been in a car accident or needed to file an insurance claim for damages to your car, you know the headaches you may have to endure as you file paperwork, get the damage appraised and bring your car to the repair shop to be fixed.  Physical Damage Coverage can be a frustrating issue for consumers so the Division of Insurance has put together a breakdown of the information you need to know.

There are three different types of physical damage coverages which could potentially cover losses to your vehicle if you have auto insurance: collision, limited collision, and comprehensive.  There is also a coverage known as Property Damage Liability which covers your liability for damages to property owned by others.

Collision coverage provides for the cost to repair damage to your car after an accident with another car or other inanimate object.  Limited collision is similar to collision coverage however, as you can probably guess, it is a more restricted version (but also less expensive).  Specifically, limited collision only covers the cost to repair your vehicle when it is determined that you are not more than 50% at fault for the accident. You also cannot collect for damages if the owner of the at-fault vehicle involved in the accident cannot be identified. Given these restrictions, insurance producers usually do not recommend this coverage unless the car is worth a minimal amount.

Comprehensive coverage provides you with coverage for both direct and accidental damage to your vehicle, except if the damage was caused by a collision.  It includes most non-collision based glass damage, and any other damage due to vandalism, fire, theft, falling objects, larceny, explosions, earthquakes, windstorms, hail, water, or contact with an animal.

If you do not have physical damage coverage and file a claim for vehicle damage, you may be denied and have to pay the costs out-of-pocket. Since you do not need to purchase physical damage coverage in order to put your car on the road, you may not know if your existing policy includes it or not. Additionally, you may be in violation of your loan or leasing agreement if your car is financed and you do not purchase physical damage coverage. Review your current policy and contact your insurer if you are unsure whether or not you have, or should have, physical damage coverage.

If you have questions about insurance coverage or a claim, contact the Division of Insurance’s Consumer Service Department at (617) 521-7794 or online at www.mass.gov/doi.

The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry.  If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.

 

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