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Does Renters Insurance Cover Personal Property Damage Caused by Police?

Does Renters Insurance Cover Personal Property Damage Caused by Police?

Ever wondered what happens when the police, in the line of duty, end up damaging your property? 

It’s something we rarely think about, but it happens – imagine a police chase ending with a crash into your backyard or a law enforcement search leading to unintended damage inside your house.  

Unlike theft or natural disasters, whether or not you're responsible for police property damage can depend on the exact circumstances. So you need to know what happens if police damage your property during a search.

With that in mind, here’s what we’ll discuss:

  • Common Reasons Damages From Police Occur
  • Does Insurance Cover Police Damage?
  • Final Thoughts: Does Renters Insurance Cover Police Damage?

Common Reasons Damages From Police Occur

Although local law enforcement officers don’t generally set out to damage personal property, it can happen due to a variety of circumstances, such as:

Reasons for police property damage.

  • Police pursuit: A high-speed chase could result in a crash through your fence and brand-new patio furniture.
  • Police raid or search: Law enforcement officers search your property for specific items or people and have legal justification to damage your property while doing so (such as a drug detection dog sniffing something in your couch cushions).
  • Noncompliance: The police department has a search warrant to search your home, and you refuse to let them inside, so they cause damage by forcing entry.
  • Accident: Officers cause damage to your home or apartment by making a mistake or being misled. Such as getting an apartment number wrong or the SWAT team being maliciously sent to your home in a Swatting hoax.
  • Malpractice: Officers neglect their duty of care responsibility and inflict excessive or unwarranted property damage.

Whether you’re a bystander or an innocent person falsely accused, sometimes police can damage property during their duties.

But what exactly happens if this possibility becomes a reality for you? Let’s look at an example, using a police raid or search as a reference.

So, police officers damaged your property during a raid or search. They broke it, so they should pay for it, right?

Not always. It really depends on why the police were there in the first place and how the damage occurred.

What happens if police damage your property during a search?

  • Police officers were negligent: If you’re innocent and your property was damaged due to an error or act of police malpractice, you can usually file a claim for reimbursement with law enforcement officials. 
  • A third party created the issue: If your property was damaged as police attempted to arrest someone else, that “someone else” could be responsible instead of the police.
  • Police officers were looking for you or someone you were actively hiding: If you are the suspect or hiding the suspect, you’re usually responsible for damage costs.
  • You created a false alarm mistakenly: False alarms generally mean whoever made the call is responsible. For example, if you thought someone was illegally in your home and called the police, then you are usually responsible for the damages.

State laws and court rulings can also affect who has to pay for damages.

California police civil liability law, for example, says that law enforcement isn’t responsible for any “reasonable damages” they cause — only those resulting from “unnecessarily destructive behavior” or unlawful activities. However, recent court rulings may change that soon. Texas state civil law, however, maintains that government entities are to blame for damages if a “wrongful act or omission or the negligence of an employee” occurred. 

It’s always a good idea to get legal advice from a lawyer or check with a housing advocacy group when trying to figure out who is responsible. And sometimes, you might even have to take legal action like this Texas homeowner did.

But what if you are responsible for handling the costs? That’s where your renters insurance might be able to help. 

But when does renters insurance actually cover damage from law enforcement?

Does Insurance Cover Police Damage? 

Although this question is super simple, its answer is a complicated “maybe.” 

Who pays often boils down to “who is at fault” — you, the police, or another party, and what was damaged. So if you’re not guilty of anything and no one else is at fault, your renters insurance might provide coverage when police damage your belongings –  as long as it isn’t the actual rental property. Building damage will likely need to be handled by the property owner. 

However, the intricacies regarding who is to blame and the resulting financial implications vary by state law and specific policy clauses.

Once the blame is legally determined, the “guilty party” is responsible for paying the damages. If this person is you, whether or not your renters insurance covers the damages depends on your policy's exclusions.

Insurance Policy Specifics

All Goodcover policies include coverage for damages resulting from a riot or civil commotion.

Many insurance policies have exclusions for civil unrest, which could include property damage caused by a raid or search. Our plans at Goodcover, however, generally cover personal property damages resulting from a “riot or civil commotion.” 

This means that if you have a Goodcover policy, insurance claims for certain types of police damage could be covered the same way they would have been if it had been fire damage. But, in most cases, Goodcover renters insurance won’t kick in to cover damage from the police.

Other providers might have wider exclusion policies that exclude any government actions. If you’re left with any questions after reading your policy, contact your insurance provider for assistance. 

Remember that you will be responsible for a deductible if your insurance covers police damage.

What To Do If Police Damage Your Property 

  1. Remain calm and respectful.
  2. Get badge numbers and a police report if possible.
  3. Document the damage.
  4. Report it to your landlord or the property owner.
  5. Get estimates for repairs/replacements.
  6. Contact an experienced lawyer and your local renters' coalition or advocacy group using the links below:
  1. Contact your renters insurance carrier, start filing a reimbursement claim with the police, or start working with a law firm on legal action against the guilty party.

Final Thoughts: Does Renters Insurance Cover Police Damage? 

Life is full of unpredictable and uncontrollable occurrences, and while some personal property damages are usually covered by renters insurance, police property damage exists within a context of uncertainty.

While police property damage is a relatively rare event, it’s a real possibility. If law enforcement does damage your home or apartment, what happens next depends on how the damage was caused and who is at fault.

To determine if your renters insurance covers police damages, you can research state laws and review the specifics of your policy. But make sure to consult with advocacy groups, legal experts, and your insurance provider to confirm the details.

Are you looking for a reliable renters insurance provider offering great coverage and assistance with life’s most unexpected challenges? 

Compare and switch to Goodcover today.

Note: This post is meant for informational purposes; insurance regulation and coverage specifics vary by location and person. Check your policy for exact coverage information.

For additional questions, 
reach out to us – we’re happy to help.

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