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Getting in a car accident and having to file a claim is one of the more stressful issues to have to deal with. But it can become even more stressful when you realize expensive business or personal property was also affected.

Whether from an accident or a theft, you may be wondering: “Is stolen or damaged property in my vehicle covered by insurance?”

The answer is not exactly straightforward. But fortunately, as insurance experts here at Berry Insurance, we’ve had to answer this question for both our personal and commercial insurance clients quite a few times.

So in this article, we’ll go over if property in your vehicle is covered in four different scenarios: personal property in a personal vehicle, personal property in a business vehicle, business property in a personal vehicle, and business property in a business vehicle. 

Personal property in a personal vehicle

Many people assume that if property from their car was stolen or damaged in an accident, their personal auto insurance will cover it.

Well we’re here to tell you: no, it doesn’t.

BUT WAIT! It doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.

Believe it or not, you actually do have coverage for the possessions in your car, but not through your car insurance – through your home, renters, or condo insurance. (That’s one of the reasons it’s always important to have home/condo/renters insurance, even if it is optional for your situation.)

And, contrary to popular belief, your possessions don’t have to actually be in your home, apartment, or condo to be covered by home, renters, or condo insurance.

Each of these policies include personal property coverage, which covers your possessions (up to the limits set by your home/condo insurance, or the limits you select on your renters insurance).

Your property is covered by disasters such as lightning, wind, hail, explosions, fire, vehicles, theft, vandalism, and more depending on the coverages you elect – and the best part? It is covered whether the damage or theft occurs in your home, your vehicle, or anywhere else.

Personal property in a business vehicle

If you drive a business vehicle, it’s not unheard of that you may have some personal property in it. 

If this is the case, you have a couple options if it gets damaged or stolen.

You can file a claim under your home/renters/condo insurance, or you can file a claim under the business if they have personal property of others coverage, and transit coverage. However, in most cases, filing a claim through your own home/condo/renters insurance probably makes more sense. 

For one, deductibles under business insurance are usually higher than those under personal insurance. That means you would be paying more to have your claim covered under business insurance. Also, business insurance may not even pay the claim if you can’t prove a valid reason that the personal property was in the vehicle.

Business property in a personal vehicle

Now what if business property in your personal vehicle is stolen or damaged?

This is where it starts to get a little tricky.

If you know your home/condo/renters insurance covers personal property in your vehicle, you might assume that business property insurance will cover property in your vehicle. But unfortunately, that is not the case. 

When it comes to commercial property insurance, some exclusions apply. For example, it usually only covers equipment located at the primary address listed on the policy. So if property is stolen or damaged outside of the office, commercial property insurance won’t cover.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get coverage at all. 

What you really need in this situation is transit coverage. This coverage will pay for any stolen or damaged business equipment, regardless of its location. If you are transporting business tools or equipment, you would need tools/equipment coverage in addition to transit coverage. If you are transporting customer goods, you will need separate coverage for that as well.

Business property in a business vehicle

If you read the section above, you can probably imagine insuring business property in a business vehicle is similar to insuring business property in a personal vehicle.

Since commercial property insurance is tied to the primary business address and won’t cover any damage to property outside that address, you need additional protection to cover property in transit or outside the business office: in this case, transit coverage. If you are transporting business tools or equipment, you would need tools/equipment coverage in addition to transit coverage. If you are transporting customer goods, you will need separate coverage for that as well.

Some carriers offer a small amount of these coverages automatically, but in some cases you will need to elect to add it.

Check with your insurance agent to find out what your business policy covers.

Cover your property in every situation

Because of the intricate nature of life, sometimes there is crossover when it comes to accidents. Some accidents may even involve more than one type of insurance claim, such as if you are in an accident involving damage to both a vehicle, and property.

That’s exactly the reason insurance is so tricky. Since there are many different aspects to life and business, there are several different types of policies. Sometimes these policies overlap, sometimes they leave gaps – it’s not always easy to know how to get all the right coverages and limits on each of your business and/or personal policies. 

That’s why working with an independent insurance agent can really help. An experienced agent can use their expertise to gather a holistic view of all of your needs to ensure you have all the right policies and coverages, without any gaps or overlaps. They can also shop your insurance among the several carriers they represent so they can get you these policies at the right price.

To learn more about how to find the right insurance provider for you, read this article: What to Look For when Selecting an Insurance Agency or Company.