Car Insurance Covers Damage from Covered Events
Before explaining what car insurance covers, it’s important to remember there are three main types of car insurance in the United States:
Liability Coverage: This is the basic, legally-required car insurance you are required to have to legally drive on a public road in the United States. Your liability coverage covers damage you inflict onto other people and property during a collision or other event.
Collision Coverage: Collision coverage covers damage to your own vehicle. This is optional. With collision coverage, your car insurance will cover repair and replacement costs if your car is damaged in a covered event – like an accident.
Comprehensive Coverage: Comprehensive coverage covers non-accident-related expenses, including theft, vandalism, storm damage, and more. If your car is damaged in a covered event, then you can make a claim under your comprehensive coverage plan. Comprehensive coverage is optional.
What Isn’t Covered By Car Insurance?
If you have liability coverage (the bare minimum), then damage to your own vehicle is never covered, regardless of whether it occurs in an accident or non-accident event. For the exclusions below, we’re assuming you have full coverage car insurance (liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage). Even with full coverage, certain things are not covered:
Damage Caused by Acts of God: Most car insurance policies have exclusions for natural disasters. It’s often labeled under something like an “Acts of God” clause. If your car is damaged during an earthquake, hurricane, or flood, then you may not be able to claim damage.
Your Belongings Inside the Vehicle: Your vehicle’s belongings may be damaged when your car is stolen or hit by another vehicle. Or, they could be stolen out of your vehicle while it’s parked overnight. However, your belongings are not covered by car insurance. Whether it’s your laptop, phone, or other valuables, these items have nothing to do with car insurance. You can, however, make a claim under a different insurance policy – like your renters’ insurance or homeowners’ insurance.
Certain In-Car Items: We’ve established that your possessions are not covered by car insurance. Many drivers, however, are surprised that certain in-car items aren’t covered by car insurance. your music system, navigation system, custom seats, headrest TVs, and other items may not be covered by car insurance.
Driving your Car for Business Purposes: If you occasionally use your car for business purposes, then your insurance will not cover you during this period. You will need to purchase commercial vehicle coverage. Driving to and from work does not count. However, if you transport things for work, then this could be considered a commercial trip. If you get into an accident while transporting items for work, then your insurance company may deny your claim.
Driving a Different Vehicle: Insurance follows the car – not the driver. That means you are not automatically insured if you drive a different vehicle. If that vehicle has insurance, then you should be covered. You are not automatically covered when driving someone else’s vehicle or renting a vehicle, however. Your car insurance policy lists a specific vehicle, and you can only make a claim for that vehicle.
Wear and Tear and General Maintenance: Any general maintenance costs are not covered by car insurance. All cars break down over time. This is an expected cost of car ownership. Wear and tear and general maintenance is not covered by car insurance.
Cheap Repairs: When you file a car insurance claim, you will typically be required to pay a deductible. This deductible ranges from $250 to $1,000. Some claims – like comprehensive coverage claims – do not require you to pay a deductible in all situations. If you do have to pay a deductible, however, then it may not be in your best interest to make a claim for cheap repairs. If your deductible is $500 and it’s going to cost $450 to repair body damage to your vehicle, for example, then it’s not in your best interest to make a claim.
Damage from Excluded Drivers: Some car insurance policies require you to exclude certain drivers. If a driver in your household has a DUI or extensive accident history, for example, then you may exclude that person from using your vehicle in order to avoid high insurance prices. Car insurance will refuse to pay a claim if an excluded driver was operating your vehicle at the time of the incident.
Fraudulent Claims: If the car insurance company believes your claim is fraudulent – say, it was a staged accident or a fabricated hit and run – then your claim will be denied.
Conclusion: Comprehensive Insurance Does Not Cover Everything
There’s a prevailing myth among car owners that full coverage car insurance plans cover everything. Whether you have full coverage or comprehensive coverage, you’re never going to get car insurance that covers everything. There are plenty of ordinary costs that car insurance will not cover.