Skagit River Bridge Collapse: Would Your Car Insurance Pay?

photo of pacific northwest

Only a few short weeks after the Skagit River bridge collapse near Mt. Vernon, WA, we are still shocked by the magnitude of this vehicular accident!  Can you imagine driving at 60 mph only to see the road in front of you disappear? What would you do?

You may be wondering: If my car had been involved in this accident, how would my auto insurance policy respond?

First of all, the easy answer is that if you carry collision and comprehensive coverage on your vehicle, any damage that might have been done to your car (even if it ended up in the Skagit River) would be covered subject to your deductible.   And, if you or your passengers were hurt, your Personal Injury Protection would help with immediate medical bills and loss of income.

But what if you had been the cause of such an accident?  What if your negligence caused a collision which resulted in the bridge collapse — who would be responsible to pay for the repair of the bridge (estimated at over $15 million) and all of the ancillary costs of diverting interstate traffic for months?

Or, what if you changed lanes too quickly and caused a tanker truck to overturn and spilling thousands of gallons of oil onto a freeway, requiring extensive clean-up, labor and overtime pay?  It happened just two years ago in Bellevue, WA. 

The scary answer is YOU, the negligent driver, would be responsible for all costs!

Even with less dramatic cases, you are financially responsible anytime you cause an accident that damages property, whether the accident involves another driver’s car, a house or commercial building, or a public structure such as a guard rail or telephone pole.

Our office has handled many reports of unusual and unexpected property damage.  The actual claims photos here show the damage done when a pickup truck driver backed into a fire hydrant, flooding a large parking lot and causing significant damage to commercial property stored in these buildings.

This is why all standard auto insurance policies include Property Damage Liability as a basic coverage.

The huge challenge is that state required minimum limits for Property Damage Liability are unrealistically low — only $25,000 in Washington state, as an example.  In some states, the required minimum limit is only $10,000.   These amounts would barely pay for damage to an average used car!

The owner (private or public) of that damaged luxury car, home, telephone pole, or bridge has the legal right to demand that you pay for the full repair or replacement of their property if you are at fault.  If your Property Damage Liability limits are not high enough to pay the full bill, you can be forced to liquidate your other assets or even assign a percentage of your future earnings to satisfy a judgment.

Increasing your Property Damage Liability Limits can be very affordable. A personal umbrella liability policy of $1 million or more is an even better value.  Don’t leave yourself vulnerable by relying on state minimum liability limits.  Allow one of our professional independent agents to prepare a protection plan that fits your needs, your exposure, and your budget.

While the Skagit River bridge collapse is a unique tragedy that will take many months to investigate, it also illustrates how quickly accidents can happen, and how fast expenses add up.

Take your insurance protection to the next level.  You’ll be surprised how affordable it is!


About McClain Insurance Services:

McClain Insurance Services is an independent insurance agency located in Everett, WA. The agency represents a select group of regional and national insurance companies, including PEMCO, Safeco, Travelers and Progressive.

Since 1977, McClain Insurance Services has offered quality insurance options to customers in Snohomish County and Washington state.  Our convenient full-service website and our team of licensed, professional brokers make insurance shopping personal, easy, quick and hassle-free.

Independent agents work with you to customize an insurance plan that meets your needs and fits your budget. They can help with all your personal insurance needs: AutoHomeRentersLifeUmbrellaEarthquakeFloodBoatMotorcycle and RV Insurance.

McClain Insurance Services is a Trusted Choice agency and a member of the Independent Agents Association of America, the Economic Alliance of Snohomish County, and the BBB. They are also Charter Members of NSACE – National Society of Agents for Consumer Education.


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McClain Insurance Services
10410 19th Ave SE
Everett, WA 98208
(425) 379-9200
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