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What is civil liability coverage in car insurance?

February 3, 2023

The world of car insurance can be a tricky place to navigate, and I’m sure that you will have had that baffling experience of trying to understand exactly what the different policies include and what eventualities and incidents you and your vehicle will be covered for - but let me assure you, you are not alone!

One such area of cover that many people are unsure about is Civil Liability, and what kind of protection this provides in a car insurance policy. So, without further ado… let’s have a look at the terminology and what Civil liability coverage in car insurance is all about…

What is civil liability coverage in car insurance?

First of all, what, in general, does civil liability mean? 

In terms of the basic dictionary definition, civil liability is “the legal responsibility of paying money for damage to another person´s health, business or property”. The legal dictionary goes on to explain that civil liability is “potential responsibility for payment of damages or other court-enforcement in a lawsuit, as distinguished from criminal liability, which means open to punishment for a crime.”

This means that, in the event of an incident, where you have not broken the law, but where you have caused “damage” to another person, you will not be charged in a criminal court, but you may be taken to civil court, and held liable to pay compensation for any injury or losses a third-party may experience as a result of the incident.  

As legaldictionary.net state, “Civil liability refers to the right of an injured party to hold someone responsible for their injuries or damages, which resulted from the other party’s wrongful actions. In order to hold a person or entity civilly liable, the wronged party must have suffered some type of quantifiable loss or damage. This may be in the form of personal injury, property damage, loss of income, loss of contract, and a host of other losses".

So, what does Civil liability mean in terms of car insurance?

The idea that you could be sued or have civil action taken against in the event of a car accident will no doubt strike fear in many of you. But in terms of civil liability in car insurance, you will be pleased to hear that reputable insurance providers include specific levels of cover which provide protection to the policy holder for any financial losses that may be incurred if the other driver or third-party involved make a claim against you

For example, Caser Expat Insurance, include two types of civil liability coverage (compulsory and voluntary) and legal defence in all their car insurance policies (from Third Party, Extended Third Party to Fully Comprehensive). 

Compulsory Civil liability (Responsabilidad Civil Obligatoria)

This provides cover to compensate third parties for material damage and/or personal injury that you may cause to them if you are responsible for an accident. This covers, at most, the amount stipulated by regulation at the time of the incident. This amount is determined according to the scale set forth in Royal Decree 8/2004, and approved Law on Civil Liability and Insurance in the Circulation of Motor Vehicles.

Voluntary Civil Liability (Responsabilidad Civil Voluntaria)

If the cover provided by the compulsory civil liability is not enough to pay for level of the damages incurred, there is additional voluntary coverage to ensure a higher amount of compensation or damages can be covered. The amount will be specified within the policy conditions and clauses of the contract.  In the case of Caser Expat Insurance, their compensation limit is € 50,000,000.

What types of incidents does this cover?

In general, there are two sides to the civil liability coin, which are bodily injury liability, which is cover for medical expenses of people involved in an accident, and property damage liability, which covers the expenses related to repairing the vehicle of the third party in the accident. 

As I mentioned before, each insurance provider will have their own stipulations regarding civil liability in car insurance. I have used Caser Expat Insurance policies as an example to show you the type of incidents they, as the insurance provider, will cover for their insured drivers, and the financial compensation or damages that you may be obligated to pay to third parties. 

Example situations:

  • If you have a traffic accident or collision for which you are to blame, such as not braking in time at a traffic light, running into the back of another car etc.
  • If an incident occurs when your car is parked or stationary, including fire or explosion in or outside your garage.
  • If luggage you are carrying falls on a public road, either from inside the vehicle or from the roof rack. 
  • If you cause damage when opening the car doors, such as damaging an adjacent parked car in a car park.
  • They also cover damage caused by trailers or caravans weighing up to 750 kg., if they have been declared in the policy and have the same licence plate number as the car. 

What is civil liability coverage in car insurance?


Legal defence (defensa jurídica)

In addition to covering your civil liability obligations in terms of the financial damages that are awarded to the third party involved in the incident, some insurance providers will also provide legal defence cover. This means that, if the case ends up in court, they will either be able to provide their own legal services to represent you in the case, or they may help pay a specified sum towards the expenses of your own personal lawyer who you appoint directly to assist you. In the case of Caser Expat Insurance, their legal defence cover gives unlimited coverage if you make use of their legal services, or they will pay up to a maximum of € 1,500 of expenses for your own appointed lawyer’s fees.

So, as you can see, although the concept of Civil liability can be scary, it really is worth checking, when obtaining a car insurance policy, that it includes a comprehensive level of liability cover for both financial damages and legal support. 

Civil liability coverage in car insurance gives the added peace of mind that if, touch wood, you have a car accident, and you find yourself being sued or facing legal proceedings you don’t have the financial stress in terms of any compensation and legal expenses you may have to pay, and more importantly, you don’t have the psychological stress and worry, in terms of going through the proceedings alone.
As a final pointer… if reading this has made you anxious about the concept of civil liability in a wider context, you will be pleased to know that you can also contact Caser Expat Insurance about more general Civil Liability Insurance which help you protect yourself in different day to day situations. Caser Expat Insurance offer two types of civil liability policies, real estate and family, so you can sleep well knowing that if your house floods and the water also ruins the neighbour’s new kitchen, or your pet chews its way through the neighbour’s fence, or you do risky sports that may result in an accident with another person, you will also have protection and support. Take out our civil liability insurance by calling our agents on: +34 91 055 16 56. It is worth checking out what eventualities would be most related to your personal situation and lifestyle and speaking to an advisor for recommendations for damage limitation

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