How to file a claim against someone else's homeowners insurance

If you’ve been hurt or experienced damage to your property and you believe another party is liable, you may be able to file a liability claim with their homeowners insurance and get reimbursed.

Pat Howard 1600

Pat Howard

Published June 17, 2020

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • If you’re injured or your property is damaged and someone else is liable, you can file a claim with their homeowners insurance

  • In most cases, either the homeowner or you can file the liability claim with their insurance company

  • In order to be successfully reimbursed on a liability claim, you’ll have to provide documentation and proof in support of the claim

Homeowners insurance is essential financial protection because, let’s face it, accidents happen. Your coverage doesn’t simply protect your home, it’s also a financial safeguard if you’re ever held liable for someone else’s injury or property damage.

But what happens when the accident — be it a tree falling on your home or a dog biting your child — is the responsibility of your neighbor, not you? If your home’s damage was extensive or the dog bite was vicious and requires expensive surgery, you might expect your neighbor to pick up the bill so that you don’t have to file a claim with your own home or health insurer and risk your own insurance premiums going up after the claim.

If you feel the other party’s negligence led to the tree falling or the dog attacking your child, try talking with them and see if you can work it out one on one. If they’re not able to settle out of pocket, they’ll need to file a liability claim with their home or renters insurance, provided they have that coverage. If the liable party doesn’t cooperate and file the claim, you could try and get their insurance information and file the claim on their behalf. If they don’t have insurance or you’re not able to retrieve their policy information, you have the option of suing and settling the matter in court.

In this article:

Can you file a claim against someone else’s insurance company?

Technically you can file a claim against someone else’s homeowners insurance, provided they take responsibility for the loss or injury and file the claim, or they give you their policy information so that you can file it for them.

Bear in mind that it’s often in the responsible party’s best interest to file the claim on their own. In the event the homeowner doesn’t think they’re responsible, filing the claim themselves gives them the opportunity to tell their side of the story and potentially have the claim dropped. Liability claims usually cause insurance premiums to skyrocket and often result in policy cancellations.

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How do you file a claim against someone else’s homeowners insurance?

You have a couple of options for filing a claim against someone else’s insurance: the property owner could very well accept legal responsibility and file the claim on their own, or they could give you their policy information and have you file it on their behalf. As the person who is claiming the injury or loss, you have to provide proof that the property owner is responsible during the claims process.

To file a liability claim against someone else’s insurance, you’ll likely need to know their full name, insurance company, and policy number. Once you have that information, you can contact their insurance company claims department and begin the claim. They may also ask you for additional proof to support your claim, which we will cover below.

If the homeowner refuses to disclose their insurance information, you then have the option of filing a lawsuit. If it gets to that point, their insurance company may decide to either settle and pay you for the damages or fight the lawsuit.

If you experienced an injury or loss that you feel another homeowner is responsible for, be sure to do the following:

Talk to the property owner

Before proceeding with any claim, you’ll need to notify the homeowner that they’re responsible for your injury or property loss, if it isn’t apparent to them already. From there, you can discuss how to proceed. If you know the person well, they may offer to use their policy’s no-fault medical payments coverage or offer to pay for the loss out of pocket.

But if the accident involves a serious injury that puts you out of work, or super expensive property damage, it may be in the property owner’s best interest to file a claim with their insurance company so that they’re off the hook financially.

Provide proof

As the individual who experienced the loss, you’ll need to provide the other person’s insurance company with documentation that supports your claim. If you were injured on someone’s property, you’ll need to provide stuff like the time and date of the injury, medical bills, and anything else that supports your injury claim.

Liability claims can also be considerably difficult to prove, and insurance companies will do whatever it takes to avoid making an expensive liability claim payout. For example, if your neighbor’s dead tree fell onto your home, it may seem that your neighbor is liable since the tree was dead. However, unless you provided proof in writing that you warned your neighbor of the dead tree and they were aware of the harm it posed, you’re likely not winning that liability claim.

Prepare for an investigation

Once you file the claim, the liable party’s insurance company will typically have a claims adjuster contact you and investigate the claim. The insurance adjuster will likely visit the residence where the incident occurred and collect evidence that either supports or refutes the claim.

Common homeowners insurance liability claims

If you or a dependent in your household is a victim of any of the following, you may be able to file a claim against the other person’s homeowners insurance:

Dog bites

Dog-related claims account for nearly a third of personal liability claims with an average claim payout of $44,760 in 2019, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

But keep in mind that the success of the claim could hinge on whether the policy covers the breed that caused the injury. For example, many insurance companies exclude certain types of dog breeds from policies, including Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepards. If your child was bitten by your neighbor’s dog and the breed is excluded from their insurance, then your neighbor will likely need to pay you directly or you’ll have to sue to be awarded damages.

Pool injuries

Homeowners with pools are expected to take “reasonable care” of the area around the pool to limit liability exposure and pool injuries. That means keeping the area around the pool dry to avoid slip and falls, having a fence around the pool and securing the gate when it’s not in use, and keeping a close eye on the pool itself when it is in use.

Trampolines

Trampoline injuries are another common type of liability claim, although many insurance companies now require homeowners with trampolines to have protective netting around the exterior of the structure.

Fallen trees

If your neighbor’s tree fell onto your property and you can prove to their insurer that it was a known hazard, you could file a claim against their homeowners insurance.

Accidental injuries in and around the home

Slip and falls are probably the most common types of liability claims. These accidents can be caused by icy driveways or pathways, wet or damaged floors, or just having a home with old and unsteady stairs or floorboards.

About the author

Insurance Expert

Pat Howard

Insurance Expert

Pat Howard is an Insurance Editor at Policygenius in New York City and an expert in homeowners insurance. Previously, he was working as a freelance writer for the New York State Nurses Association and wrote for the Michigan Information Research Service. Pat has a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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