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Property Damage 101: Navigating Insurance Claims in Washington State

property damage 101

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve recently been involved in a car accident in Washington State, and now you have to deal with property damage. In 2023, there were over 86,000 car crashes in Washington, so you’re not alone. As a personal injury lawyer who has handled a lot of property damage claims, my goal is to provide you with a comprehensive guide, so you’re well-informed and prepared to navigate the process. 

Understanding property damage in Washington state

Property damage refers to damage to your vehicle and any personal property that was inside the car at the time of the accident. In Washington State, there are specific steps and considerations to keep in mind when filing a property damage claim with an insurance company.

Step 1: Assessing the damage

Immediately after the accident, if you’re able, take detailed photographs of all visible damage to your vehicle and any damaged personal property. This evidence will be crucial when filing your claim. Additionally, it’s wise to get a copy of the police report (if available), as it will contain important details about the accident.

Step 2: Understanding your coverage

Review your insurance policy to understand what types of coverage you have. In Washington State, there are generally two types of relevant coverages for property damage:

  • Collision Coverage: This covers damage to your vehicle, regardless of who is at fault. However, you’ll likely have to pay a deductible before your insurance covers the rest.
  • Property Damage Liability: If the other driver is at fault, their property damage liability coverage should pay for your damages. Washington law requires drivers to have a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability, but the actual costs can exceed this minimum.
  • Underinsured Property Damage Coverage: You may have this coverage that will pay the excess if the other driver doesn’t have enough coverage.

Step 3: Filing the claim

You have the option to file a claim with your own insurance company (if you have collision coverage) or the at-fault driver’s insurance for property damage. When filing the claim, be prepared to provide all the evidence you’ve gathered, including photos, the police report, and any other relevant documentation.


If you file with your own insurance company, you will have to pay your deductible. However, if the other driver was at fault, your insurance company will likely get that deductible back for you. Your own insurance company also has a contract with you and a legal obligation to treat you fairly.


If you file with the other person’s insurance, you will not have to pay a deductible, but they will have to complete an investigation, which could be lengthy.

Step 4: Dealing with adjusters

After filing your claim, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to assess the damage. It’s important to remember that adjusters work for the insurance company and their goal is to minimize the company’s payout. Be firm but polite, and do not agree to any settlements before you fully understand the extent of your damages and rights.

Step 5: Understanding your rights and options

In some cases, the insurance settlement offer may not cover all your damages. If you find yourself in this situation, you have several options:

  • Negotiate with the insurance adjuster for a higher settlement. This can include doing research on similar vehicles and providing that to the adjuster.
  • If negotiations fail, you may consider filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
  • Consult with a personal injury lawyer to explore your legal options and ensure your rights are protected.


Navigating through a property damage insurance claim in Washington can be overwhelming. However, by understanding the steps involved and knowing your rights, you can confidently manage your claim and seek the compensation you deserve. Remember, you don’t have to go through this process alone. As a Washington personal injury lawyer, I’m here to provide guidance and support to car accident victims. Don’t hesitate to reach out for legal assistance to ensure that your interests are fully protected.

This blog post is designed to be informative and assist car accident victims in Washington State with their property damage insurance claims. It’s important for readers to remember that each claim is unique, and specific legal advice should be sought for individual situations.

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