Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. Through her years working in th...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

UPDATED: May 4, 2022

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Car insurance companies determine which damages to cover based upon what caused the damages, not the nature of the damages themselves. Nearly any part of a vehicle can be repaired or replaced by insurance if that part was damaged during a covered accident or other loss.

This includes obvious elements, like body panels, but it also covers damages to a vehicle’s mechanical parts, interior, glass and other areas. You might also be asking, “Does insurance cover transmission damage?” There are plenty of questions that crop up when one is a vehicle owner. That’s why we’re here to help. The good news is that every driver has options.

Whenever you purchase an insurance policy, you can choose what coverage you wish to include. Each coverage will apply to a different type of loss. It’s important to understand what each coverage handles so that you make wise choices when purchasing coverage and setting your deductibles.

What determines whether a claim will be handled?

In order to jump into whether or not insurance covers transmission failure or damage, we need to talk about the claim process a little bit first. When an insurance company takes a claim, the representative will match your loss facts with certain loss types. If the loss facts do not coincide with covered perils on the policy, the insurance company will not pay for the repairs and the claim will be denied.

The primary coverage that will repair an insured vehicle are collision and comprehensive. Collision coverage pays for any incident between a moving vehicle and another object, including other vehicles, pedestrians and fixed objects. Comprehensive coverage pays for essentially all other types of accidental damage, including vandalism, weather damage and damages caused by an animal.

Damages caused by general wear and tear, mechanical failure and other non-accidental causes are not covered by auto insurance. As a general rule, if something wears out over time, it will not be covered by car insurance. The damage must be sudden and accidental in order for coverage to apply.

Whenever you file a claim, the insurance company will send an adjuster to take a look at your vehicle. The inspection will determine both how much the repairs will cost and whether the damages were truly caused by the loss you reported. Assuming the reported loss facts match the damages on your vehicle, the claim will be settled under the appropriate coverage and your repairs can begin.

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Does car insurance cover transmission damage?

Aside from the engine, a car’s transmission is usually one of the most expensive parts to replace. If you’re having transmission problems, you may be hoping that the insurance company can help cover the cost of the repairs. Unfortunately, these repairs can only be covered if the damage was caused by a covered peril. There are a few ways that a car’s transmission can be damaged as part of a covered accident:

— If the vehicle is caught in a flood and the engine is submerged, the vehicle’s transmission and other mechanical parts may be damaged as well.

— If someone vandalizes the vehicle by draining the transmission fluid or otherwise tampering with the car’s mechanical workings, the car could be rendered immobile.

— If a vehicle sustains massive front-end damage as a result of a collision, the transmission, engine or other mechanical parts could be damaged.

— If the vehicle was parked and hit hard enough to shove it forward, the transmission could be damaged by being forced to move while in the wrong gear.

What are some other ways your transmission could be damaged?

Other types of accidents could potentially cause damage to a vehicle’s transmission, especially if the accident was severe. If you see damage occur to your vehicle that involves the transmission, you can be relatively certain that the insurance company will pay for that damage.

If you do not see an accident occur and the vehicle has no other signs of damage, however, your transmission failure is probably due to another factor. Like all things, a car’s transmission will eventually fail on its own once the car has enough miles. This process speeds up whenever a vehicle is not properly maintained. If the transmission suddenly fails for no clear reason, the cause is most likely mechanical and the insurance company will not pay for these damages.

Of course, it is possible that a vehicle could sustain transmission damage even if there is no obvious physical damage. This could be caused by flooding, vandalism or some other subtle peril that did not leave behind any other evidence. Because this is always possible, it’s a good idea to ask your mechanic to give you an idea of why damages appear to have occurred so that you can file a claim if there is any doubt about the failure’s origin.

If your mechanic isn’t sure about the cause of your damages, you can always file a claim and have the adjuster complete the inspection. You may or may not have the claim settled, but it won’t hurt anything to get a second look.

What happens if my transmission needs to be replaced?

Assuming that your transmission damages were caused by a covered peril on your auto insurance, the adjuster and the mechanic will work together to determine whether the damages are repairable or if you will need to get a new transmission. Depending on the extent of the damage, this could cause the claim to become extremely pricey.

New transmissions are expensive, and if your vehicle is older, the price of replacing the transmission may be more than the value of the whole vehicle. In this case, your car would be considered a total loss and your insurance company would reimburse you for the value of the vehicle rather than repair the car.

Once your vehicle is totaled, it will be taken away to be sold as scrap. If you’d prefer, you can keep the car for a fraction of its value on a salvage title. Otherwise, you keep the full amount of the settlement minus any deductibles you owe.

If an insurance company is not paying for the damages, your vehicle may still be costlier to repair than to replace. In this situation, you will need to make a decision about what to do with the vehicle yourself, whether to repair it or sell the car for scrap.

This type of sudden mechanical failure is both expensive and massively inconvenient, and you may not be fully prepared to handle the situation if it arises. This is a good reason to stay current on your car’s maintenance and trade up your vehicles when they begin to age and develop problems.

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The Bottom Line

Many people take their automatic transmission for granted. However, automatic transmission repairs can cost between $1.8K and $3.4K, and are not typically covered by insurance if they’re not caused by an accident. As a precaution, you may want to consider purchasing mechanical breakdown insurance, which can be similar to an extended warranty.

If you need to compare insurance companies, we offer a free online comparison tool that can help you.