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What is property and casualty insurance?

Protect your property from physical damage while covering yourself for liability.

Updated

While property and casualty insurance spans many different insurance products, the main similarity is each protects you for casualty — also called liability — and property damage. You can even bundle some policies together if you have multiple insurance needs. However, each policy comes with specific features for the best coverage of each property type.

What’s the definition of property and casualty insurance?

Also known as P&C, property and casualty insurance is a broad term that covers liability damage and property damage. You probably already have one common kind of property and casualty insurance — like home, renters or auto insurance.

Property insurance refers to any policy that protects against damage to your own property, like a home or car. Property damage can include theft, vandalism or weather damage from earthquakes, floods, fire, wind or hail.

Casualty insurance refers to any policy that pays liability expenses when you cause damage or injuries to someone else. Liability expenses can include medical bills, repairing or replacing property you damaged or legal fees for court cases.

What types of insurance fall under property and casualty?

Property and casualty insurance is an umbrella name for a variety of insurance products you might need, like home, renters or condo insurance. Those include:

  • Car insurance. Protects your car, you and your passengers, plus other drivers and property involved in an accident with you. Covered events can include car accidents, collision with other objects, theft, vandalism or weather damage.
  • Home insurance. Covers damage to your home, personal belongings and other structures on your property against theft or weather damage. Also, gives you liability protection if others are injured on your property.
  • Renters insurance. Pays expenses if your personal belongings get damaged or if you damage the rental property and need to cover liability expenses.
  • Condo or mobile home insurance. Similar to home insurance, condo insurance includes protection for shared spaces like hallways or lounges.
  • Recreational vehicle insurance. Protects you against property damage, liability or theft for ATVs, RVs, trailers, motorcycles, sport bikes or other motor vehicles.
  • Landlord insurance. Works similar to home insurance. But this policy may add coverage for vandalism or tenant damage, personal property left on the premises, renovations, keeping your rental up to code or equipment breakdowns. Coverage varies widely by the insurer and doesn’t always include intentional tenant damage.
  • Business insurance. Protects your business office space, equipment, commercial vehicles, rented equipment or merchandise from theft and damage. Includes wide coverage for liability.
  • Pet insurance. Covers pet medical bills if they receive injuries or get sick. Some policies also cover liability for injuries your pet causes and ownership risks like advertising for a lost pet.

Why does pet insurance fall under property and casualty?

As controversial as it sounds, pets are legally considered owned personal property. This may be problematic for pet owners who value their pets as part of the family, rather than an object or property. From an insurance standpoint, pet insurance functions like a combination of health insurance and property insurance, but it’s underwritten by property and casualty companies.

What’s covered by property and casualty insurance?

Although you’ll see a variety of property and casualty insurance out there, each type includes similar coverage. You can get protection for:

  • Personal property. Protect buildings, cars, personal belongings or business equipment against theft or damage. Coverage can include protection while equipment is used at home or out travelling.
  • Property damage liability. Pay expenses for damage you cause to someone else’s property.
  • Bodily injury liability. Pay for medical bills if you cause injuries to someone else or if someone gets injured on your property.
  • Personal or business liability. Cover a lawyer and court fees if someone takes you or your business to court. This coverage may be included under one of the other types of liability above.
  • Business equipment damage. Get separate coverage to protect expensive business equipment, whether it’s owned or rented.
  • Specific events. Most property policies offer additional coverage for specific weather events called perils like earthquakes, flooding, wind or hail.
  • Loss of use. Pay for additional living expenses or lost income if you can’t use your home or important business equipment.
  • Identity theft. Protect this intangible personal property so you can restore your name, recover sensitive personal information and reimburse fraudulent charges.

Can I bundle different property and casualty insurance policies?

Yes, you can. Because property and casualty policies cover similar types of damage, many insurers provide several types of policies.

Most insurers offer multipolicy discounts up to 25% or more per policy for keeping more than one type of coverage with them. The most common bundles include car and home or renters insurance.

However, some insurers don’t offer coverage for specialty vehicles like ATVs or business insurance. You may need a separate insurer to cover those.

What common scenarios are covered by property and casualty insurance?

Insurance comes in handy in a number of scenarios, including these common situations:

Hail damage to your home’s roof

After a severe hail storm, Jack and Lisa notice large dark spots on their roof’s shingles. Since wind and hail is included in their homeowners policy, their insurance covered the cost of replacing the shingles after a $1,000 deductible.

A fender-bender car accident

Samuel rear-ends another car while he was distracted when coming to a stop sign. Samuel’s car insurance covered the damage to the other driver’s car under property damage liability. It also paid for damage to Samuel’s car through collision coverage after a deductible.

Water damage in the condo lounge

Alison, the condo property manager, sends a notice to residents that severe water damage occurred in the condo’s shared lounge and hallways. Each resident is responsible for $800, a number the condo association based on costs not covered by the master insurance policy. Residents can file this cost with their personal condo policies under a type of coverage called loss assessments.

New building codes for a rental home

The home Rachel is renting out to tenants needs building updates to keep up with new local laws, and repairs will cost several thousand dollars. Since she opted for this coverage on her landlord insurance policy, she can cover the repairs and pay for income lost while she’s unable to rent out the home.

A customer injury on business grounds

When a customer slips and falls on business property, Amy files a claim with her business insurance. Although the customer wanted to sue the business, Amy avoided the court case by using business liability coverage to pay the medical expenses up front.

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Bottom line

Property and casualty insurance is a broad term that covers a variety of damage scenarios. Since property and casualty protects many types of property, you’ll have to research insurance policies that offer the protection you need.

Common questions about property and casualty insurance

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