Goodspeed: What to do when someone drives a car into your home
QUESTION: Our house is located on a busy street and intersection. Last week, in the middle of the night someone crashed their car into our front porch and then drove off. The car did quite a lot of damage to the house and also tore up our lawn.
The guy must have been drunk or high on drugs because he even crashed into a small tree, which will now have to be taken down. But when I contacted my homeowner’s insurance company, they told me the city was responsible for the damages. I talked to the city attorney who told me they are not responsible and I should contact my own insurance company.
As you can see, I am getting the runaround. Who is responsible for paying for all the repairs to our house and lawn?
ANSWER: Curiously, cars running into and damaging houses is not that uncommon. In fact, I have a friend whose house is at the head of a busy street and her house has been hit about three times throughout the last 20 years or so.
First of all, when dealing with any insurance or potential legal claim, make sure to take date-stamped photos of the damage. Keep track of everyone you speak to and when, as well as detailed notes of all of your conversations. If any future dispute should arise, these materials will be invaluable.
The driver of the car and its owner are the first people you should look to for money to repair your home and lawn. Did you report the accident to the police? They will make a detailed report and speak to any witnesses who might have seen the crash.
The police will also have details about who owns the car. If the car’s owner has insurance, he/she will be ordered to put you in touch with their insurer.
If they do not have insurance, you can try to make a claim against the uninsured motorist coverage on your auto policy. Even though your car was not involved in the accident, your policy might have some coverage.
Unless a city vehicle was involved in the accident, the city will probably not reimburse you for any damages. I cannot imagine why your homeowner’s insurance company thinks the city is responsible. If the owner of the vehicle cannot be found or has no insurance, you should call your homeowner’s insurance company again and ask to speak to a supervisor to discuss your case and find out what is going on.
If your insurance company won’t step up, you may need to hire an attorney.
Linda Goodspeed is a longtime real estate writer and author of “In and out of Darkness.” Email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.