If you have car insurance, you probably expect it to protect you if you have an accident. But there are also some unusual things covered by car insurance, including those pesky marmots that have been around make headlines recently. And that’s just the beginning.
We spoke with Jim Hickey, vice president and head of personal lines at World Insurance Associates, about some of the crazy things auto insurance covers that you might not have thought of. He told us what’s covered, what isn’t, and what types of coverage you need to make sure the insurance company picks up on the tab.
Which comprehensive insurance covers?
Car insurance with comprehensive coverage protects you against the accidents below. With weather-related insurance claims on the rise, if you don’t have comprehensive coverage it may be worth adding it to your policy.
1. Hail, trees and golf balls
Was your car the victim of one? hailstorm? Or maybe you live just a little too close to a golf course. Whether natural or man-made, if a falling object damages your car, you are covered.
2. Rodent Damage
If a marmot, rat, squirrel or other rodent finds its way into your vehicle and chews through wires, pipes or upholstery, your auto insurance policy will cover the damage. Your policy also covers insect damage.
If you live in an area where earthquakes are frequent, you don’t need to get a standalone policy to cover your car. Car insurance covers damage caused by earthquakes. Check with your home insurer about a separate policy (besides your homeowner’s) to protect your home.
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Sometimes it can be difficult to tell how deep a puddle is before driving through it. If you go through water that floods your engine or causes other damage, you are covered.
If someone wrenches your car, smashes your windows or cuts your tires, your car insurer is there for you.
6. Floods, Tornadoes and Hurricanes
Water and wind can cause significant damage to vehicles, sometimes rendering them unable to drive. If a flood, tornado or hurricane damages your car, insurance will cover the repair costs.
7. Forest fires
In 2020, nearly 60,000 forest fires burned down more than 10 million acres in the US, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. If a wildfire damages your vehicle, you can rest easy knowing that your policy will cover the repairs.
Sinkholes often occur without warning. If they do, they can gobble up everything in their path. If a sinkhole damages your car, insurance will cover you.
According to the US Geological Survey, there are 169 potentially active volcanoes in the US. Lava flows, ash falls and gas clouds are among the risks you can face if you live in the area. As long as your auto insurance has comprehensive coverage, your insurer will cover damage from a volcano.
10. Wild Animals
Do you live in an area where deer regularly roam your yard or where bears and raccoons forage in your trash cans? If you hit a wild animal while driving your car or someone gets bored looking through the trash and decides your vehicle would be a better chew toy, the insurance will pay for the damage.
If you sell your car only to find out that the personal check the buyer gave you won’t be cleared, it could be considered theft under your policy and the insurer can cover you. But it depends on the policy so you need to check with the insurance company. If you’re planning to sell your car, it’s a good idea to demand a more secure form of payment, such as a cashier’s check, which is guaranteed by the financial institution issuing the car.
What protection against collisions and personal injury does it cover?
While comprehensive covers a lot, collision and personal injury coverage can also come in handy, sometimes when you least expect it.
1. Pot holes
While it’s best to avoid them if you can, accidents do happen. Suppose you drive over a pothole and damage the undercarriage or another part of your car. The collision portion of your policy covers the damage, even if the “crash” wasn’t with another vehicle.
Whether a snowplow comes through your neighborhood to remove a baseball-sized foot of snow or hail, if it hits your car and damages it, the insurance company will pay for the damage when you have collision coverage. The same applies if a tractor, excavator, car, truck or other vehicle causes damage to your car.
3. Injuries not caused by a collision
You probably know that auto insurance covers the damage you incur if you have an accident. But did you know that personal injury insurance covers injuries that occur as a pedestrian, when getting in and out of your car or when working on your vehicle?
What is not covered by car insurance
While auto insurance covers many of life’s setbacks, it doesn’t cover everything. Here are four accident insurance policies that don’t cover.
1. Wrong fuel
Mistakes happen and accidentally putting the wrong type of fuel in your car can damage the engine. But your insurance company won’t pay for the repairs, even if it was an honest mistake.
2. Condensation in gas tank
Condensation occurs when water vapor turns back into water. If it builds up in your gas tank, it can lead to corrosion in the tank or engine, which can be expensive to repair. But unless the condensation happened because someone wrecked your vehicle, the insurance company probably won’t cover it.
Over time, auto parts wear out and you need to replace them. That’s routine maintenance and insurance won’t cover it. Check your car warranty or go to the nearest car repair shop. Sometimes the car manufacturer’s extended warranty will cover these items if you purchased one.
4. Golf Clubs and Laptops
If someone steals personal property from your car, auto insurance will not pay to replace it. If you have renters or homeowners insurance, your policy will usually cover you up to the policy limit.
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Many states require drivers to have a minimum amount of liability insurance, but other types of coverage are usually not required by law. If you are not sure whether your policy will cover you for the events described above, please contact your insurance company or broker.
This story originally ran autotrader.com.