One of the scariest issues that can occur with your car is fire. It’s never expected, and it can quickly reduce your car to a smoldering pile of steel, plastic, and wiring. But if you have an engine fire, your car is covered by your insurance policy … right?
Your car insurance may cover engine fires, or it may not. It all depends on the coverage you’ve purchased and the cause of the fire. Here at Jerry, we’re going to help you decipher if your car insurance covers engine fires. And if it doesn’t, we might be able to help.
Minimum car insurance doesn’t cover fire damage
In most states, the minimum car insurance you must have is Bodily Injury Liability and Property Damage Liability. Neither of those coverages applies to your own vehicle at all. If you’ve equipped your car only with the bare minimum car insurance to legally drive, there’s a very slim chance that damage due to fire will be covered by your policy.
If you’ve selected only property and bodily injury damage liability, and your car has an engine fire, you’ll be left scratching together money for the repair bill. Engine fires, even just minor electrical fires under the hood, can accumulate costs measured in thousands of dollars. Sometimes it’s more than the car’s value itself.
Collision insurance MAY cover fire damage
If you’ve purchased collision insurance in addition to liability insurance, your engine fire damage may be covered under one very particular circumstance: it must be directly related to a collision.
If you’ve been involved in a collision for which you’ve previously purchased a policy, and a fire breaks out under the hood, there’s potential that your car insurance will cover the damage. It must be directly related, though, such as:
- A disrupted oil or fuel line that meets an ignition source
- An electrical short from the accident that causes the engine to start ablaze
- An outside source like another involved vehicle on fire that lights your car up
Your insurance adjuster will very carefully comb through the evidence to determine if the fire was directly related to the collision. After their investigation, your adjuster will rule on whether your fire damage should or should not be covered.
Comprehensive insurance typically covers fire damage
The name itself - “comprehensive insurance” - tells the story. If your car begins smoking, smoldering, and burning under the hood, damage is most often covered. However, even with comprehensive insurance, it’s important to know your car insurance policy well so you aren’t left with a hefty repair bill or burnt-out, non-working car.
Some comprehensive car insurance policies exclude fire damage due to mechanical failures. This can be something like an oil or fuel leak that ignites, and which may have been prevented with maintenance or repairs.
Other comprehensive car insurance terms may exclude electrical fires in the engine bay. These fires are often due to faulty repairs or accessories, not malfunctions.
Most car insurance policies don’t cover “Acts of God.” If your engine fire starts due to flooding, lightning, or other weather phenomenons, you could be on your own.
Generally, comprehensive car insurance policies are the only ones which over fire damage of any sort, including engine fires. Know what your coverage includes before you experience an engine fire and learn the hard way. Whether you need the bare minimum for car insurance or want comprehensive coverage that includes engine fires, car insurance is a fact of life when you own a car.