Mice and other animals can wreak havoc on a vehicle. When mice, squirrels, and other animals chew through wires in your car, can you expect car insurance to cover the damage? Or are you required to pay for this damage out of pocket?
Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about car insurance covering mice damage and similar damage.
How Mice and Squirrels Can Damage a Vehicle
Mice, rats, and squirrels can cause significant damage to a vehicle. These animals may take shelter by climbing up inside a vehicle – say, under the hood. Once nested, they can start chewing through wires or damaging other components.
Squirrels can be particularly nasty to your vehicle. A squirrel’s teeth never stop growing, which means they constantly gnaw on things to prevent their teeth from getting too long. When nesting in a vehicle, they might gnaw on wires, creating electrical problems in your car.
The nests themselves can also be an issue: rodents collect all types of junk to store in their nests. We’ve heard stories from mechanics finding 15 pounds of dog food and hair inside engines, choking up the engine.
Plus, if the rodents have built a nest near your air filter, then you could be hit with a blast of rat poop and dander every time you turn on your air, spreading harmful bacteria throughout your vehicle.
This problem is particularly common on cars that have been stowed for a long period of time. You may have left your car stored in the garage over the winter, for example, only to come back and find rodent problems under the hood.
Unfortunately, these problems can be tricky for mechanics to fix – especially if the rodents have chewed through a wire.
How to Tell If You Have a Mouse or Squirrel Problem
Part of the problem with mice and rodent problems is that the damage isn’t always obvious: mice and squirrels will run away as soon as they hear someone approach the car. Or, they may have nested in your vehicle over the winter, only to leave the nest in the spring with the warm weather.
For many drivers, the first sign of a mouse or squirrel problem is when one of the two problems occurs:
- Your check engine light comes on
- Your car does not start
If you suspect mouse or squirrel problems with your car, then we recommend contacting a mechanic. In many cases, your repairs will be covered under your comprehensive insurance policy.
Comprehensive Coverage Should Cover Mouse and Squirrel Damage
If you have comprehensive coverage, then your mouse and squirrel damage should be covered by your insurance.
Comprehensive coverage is optional in every state. However, if you are leasing or financing your vehicle, then you may be required to maintain comprehensive coverage. Additionally, anyone with full coverage car insurance will have comprehensive coverage.
If you just maintain basic liability insurance on your vehicle, however, then your mouse and squirrel damage is unlikely to be covered. Drivers who maintain only the minimum required car insurance will not be able to make a claim for mouse and squirrel damage.
How to Make an Insurance Claim for Mouse Damage
The first step is to contact your insurance company. An insurance agent will walk you through the claim process.
You’ll want to take as many photos of the affected area as possible. Take photos that clearly show the visible damage caused by the rodents. The more information and photos you can show your insurance company, the easier your claim will be.
Alternatively, you may want to visit a mechanic first to determine the source of your problem. In some cases, your car simply needs a new battery, for example, and you don’t need to make an insurance claim.
In other cases, the mouse or squirrel damages may only cost a few hundred dollars to repair, which means it may not be worth making an insurance claim (the cost of repairing the problem may be less than your deductible).
Some Insurance Companies Deny Mouse Damage Claims
An insurance company may deny a mouse damage claim if the coverage is not specifically mentioned on your policy.
Generally, car insurance policies are “stated policies”, which means that only listed perils are covered. If the peril is listed, then it’s covered. If it’s not listed, then it’s not covered.
If your car insurance policy does not specifically mention damage from rodents eating the wiring, then you may be out of luck. Other insurance companies, however, are more generous and will cover all such situations even when not specifically listed. Your experience will vary depending on your insurance company.
Most Homeowners Insurance Policies Exclude Rodent-Related Damages
If you have a mouse problem with your car, then you may have a mouse problem with your home.
However, most claims for rodent-related damages in the home will be denied: most home insurance policies specifically exclude any losses related to vermin, rodents, birds, insects, or domestic animals unless you have added coverage to your policy that covers this damage.
Mice, squirrels, and other animals can cause significant damage to vehicles. If a mouse or squirrel chews through your vehicle’s wiring, then the damage should be covered under your comprehensive coverage.
If you only have liability insurance, however, or if your policy excludes certain damages, then your mouse-related damage may not be covered. We recommend contacting your insurance company to verify mice, rat, and squirrel damage is covered.