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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Auto insurance is designed to pay for sudden, accidental damage. An insurance company decides what will be covered based on the cause, not the extent, of that damage. This means that after a claim is reported, the insurer will investigate the loss to confirm that it meets the criteria laid down in the policy for a certain coverage; the adjuster will also review the damage to make sure it coincides with the loss facts.
Unfortunately, not all of the damage that your vehicle sustains can be paid for by insurance. Cars are expensive to own and maintain, and it’s possible that sudden mechanical failure will render your car undriveable. Although your auto insurance will not pay to repair the vehicle in the event of mechanical problems, it may sometimes cover mechanical damages covered by accidents as well as accidents caused by mechanical failure. Below are a few of the claim types that you might not realize will be paid for by car insurance.
Blow-outs are scary, and they can easily cause extensive damage to your vehicle. Even if you manage to stop the car safely, the shredded rubber may dent the body panel of your car, and the wheel or axle may be damaged. Whenever your vehicle is involved in a blow-out, it’s a good idea to file a claim so that you can have the vehicle thoroughly inspected for damage.
If the blow-out caused your vehicle to lose control and you ran off the road or hit a fixed object, the claim would be filed under collision coverage, and it will be listed as an at-fault collision. If you manage to get the car off of the road safely but it sustains damage from the shredded tire, the claim will be paid under your comprehensive coverage. Either way, the tire itself will not be covered by your car insurance, so you will need to pay for a replacement, and any deductibles on your policy will apply to the body damage.
Engine Damage from Low Fluids
You probably know that if you drive a car without the appropriate levels of oil, transmission fluid or coolant that it will destroy the car’s engine or transmission, either of which will likely lead to the car becoming a total loss. What you may not know is that, depending on the reason for the lost fluids, the loss may be covered.
For example, if you are involved in an auto accident that causes your oil pan to leak, you may not immediately realize that you have low oil and will continue driving the vehicle. The resulting damage could be considered part of the initial accident since the damage was caused at the same time. On the other hand, the insurance company will carefully review the situation to see if you were negligent in any way. If they determine that you continued driving a vehicle despite knowing that it would cause further damage, the claim will be denied.
Although it is possible to file a claim for repair or replacement of an engine damaged in this way, you should never count on it as it’s the insurance company’s prerogative to see if the damages will be paid. Always keep an eye on your fluid levels and stop driving immediately if the car feels different or if you sense that any levels are low. Many cars will alert you to low oil or coolant levels, so there is no excuse for continuing to drive and causing further damage.
Most of the gas you get at the pump is high quality, but occasionally a batch of bad gas will come through the line. This gasoline may be contaminated with water or another substance, or it may simply burn improperly and cause damage to your vehicle. In other cases, a vandal may pour something like sugar or sand into your gas tank. Sending anything but gasoline through your vehicle’s fuel system is a sure way to destroy the car, so bad gas can lead to major expenses.
Fortunately, you are able to file a claim for this type of situation. It will be covered under your comprehensive coverage, and you may be able to hold the gas station liable for damages so the deductible could be reimbursed to you. When filing this type of claim, it’s important to keep careful notes of when and where you bought the gas in question. You should also have the vehicle thoroughly inspected, but do not authorize repairs or order any parts until the insurance company authorizes the repairs.
As with low oil and other types of claims, you may be found negligent if you continue to drive a vehicle with bad gas. This negligence will reduce your ability to benefit from the claim; the insurance company will deny the claim if they feel that you contributed to the damage. If you notice any irregularity or strangeness in the way that your car drives after refueling, be sure to take it to the shop immediately to prevent further damage.
Your insurance company may be able to extend coverage for many things that you may not think about. If in doubt about whether repairs will be covered, it’s always worthwhile to call the insurance company and check. The agent or claims service representative will happily discuss your coverage with you and let you know for sure whether it would be worthwhile to file a claim. If you’re paying for auto insurance, you may as well use it whenever you have the opportunity.