8 Things You Didn’t Know Your Car Insurance Covers


Earthquakes and potholes and car seats? Oh my! You might be surprised to learn all that your car insurance covers.

deer crossing road posing danger to car
9 min read

As a licensed insurance agent, I’ve been asked time and again what car insurance covers and why it’s necessary. It can be difficult for consumers to see the value in car insurance – they often view it as a “necessary evil” sort of expense that they hope to not have to use.

However, car insurance does come in very handy (the average driver gets in a handful of collisions over his or her lifetime, and the frequency of claims is continuing to rise), protecting drivers from potentially financially devastating events. Further, many policies offer great coverage benefits that aren’t easily quantified. While it is important to note that not all policies are the same and coverage can vary by state and company, we’re going to cover some surprising instances when you car insurance comes through in the clutch.

1. Vandalism

Have you ever left your vehicle parked, only to return to find dents or scratches covering your car? Finding unexpected damage on your vehicle can be extremely frustrating, especially if you own a shiny new car. If your policy includes comprehensive coverage, you can breathe a sigh of relief. The comprehensive portion of your policy covers vandalism and countless other instances when your vehicle suffers damage outside of a car accident.

The location of the damage on your vehicle can play a factor in whether or not you have to pay a deductible. Generally, if the body of your vehicle is damaged then your deductible would apply, but if the glass on your vehicle is damaged you may be able to get it repaired or replaced without paying any out-of-pocket expenses. Check with your insurance provider to see how they cover glass damage on your vehicle.

2. Car Seats

While the specifics of child passenger safety laws vary by state, protecting a child while riding in a car is obviously incredibly important to parents and legislators, alike. That safety and protection often comes at a high cost in the form of compliant car seats, a significant investment for concerned parents. Replacing a car seat that was damaged in an accident can be a serious financial burden, but luckily your car insurance could help save the day.

Since a child’s car seat is attached to a vehicle while in use, insurance companies basically view it as part of your car. If the child’s seat happens to be damaged as a result of an accident then it should be replaced by the collision portion of your insurance policy or the liability coverage of the driver that caused the accident.

baby in car seat

3. Someone Else’s Personal Property (and Sometimes Yours)

It may come as a shock to some people that personal items are not normally covered by car insurance. If a laptop is stolen from your car or you damage your brand new flat screen TV on the way home from the store, you’ll either have to eat the cost or file a claim with your homeowners or renters insurance company to be compensated for the loss.

However, the property damage portion of your liability insurance will provide coverage for damage that you cause to someone else’s personal property being transported in his/her vehicle in the event of an accident. This also works in reverse if you happen to be hit by another driver and some of your personal items are damaged as a result. The key question here is: who caused the accident? While this doesn’t cover your personal items in all situations, it is good to know your belongings are covered if you’re hit by a negligent driver.  

Your liability insurance will cover damage YOU cause to another person or property in a crash.

4. Pothole Damage

Potholes and foreign objects in the road can create serious issues for drivers and their vehicles. Maneuvering around these objects can be risky to other drivers and pedestrians so it’s often impossible to avoid making contact with a road hazard. While the damage caused to your vehicle is normally contained to wheels and tires, hitting a pothole can severely affect the driveability of your car.

In the event that your vehicle suffers pothole damage, the collision portion of your policy will be your saving grace. Even though this will be considered an at-fault accident by your insurance company, the important thing to remember is that the repairs will be covered. And if you find that the claim increases your rate, we always recommend comparing car insurance quotes with as many companies as possible to find the best option.

5. Earthquakes

Natural disasters cause billions of dollars in property damage each year, and one of the least predictable and most damaging types of natural disasters is an earthquake. In fact, 42 states are currently at risk of enduring damage from an earthquake. With such exposure to potential damage, and the reality that earthquake insurance is often not included on a homeowners insurance policy, you may be concerned that your vehicle could also suffer damage and not be covered.

Fortunately, automobiles are insured against damage from earthquakes as long as the policy covering the vehicle includes comprehensive insurance. Earthquakes and certain other natural disasters are deemed “acts of God,” and therefore not the responsibility of the vehicle owner. So if you live in one of the 42 states that are susceptible to earthquakes, you should consider adding comprehensive coverage as part of your auto policy.

earthquake damage to car

6. Legal Representation

Car crashes are never enjoyable experiences, regardless of who is considered at-fault. Unfortunately the accident itself may be the least of a driver’s worries if the other party decides to file a lawsuit for his or her injuries. Being served with a legal notice is one of those panic-inducing moments where you may feel as if you’re all alone, without any guidance or advice on how to proceed. Luckily for drivers with active auto insurance, most policies provide for legal representation in the event of a lawsuit.

Since legal filings are time sensitive, you should contact your insurance provider immediately so the attorney assigned to your case can respond to the court on your behalf before the deadline. If the deadline for a response passes without a response from you or your legal counsel, you could seriously jeopardize your chances of success in court; so, don’t wait.

Follow all of these steps after a car crash to make sure you’re protected.

7. Animals Running Into Your Vehicle

Majestic wildlife and picturesque outdoor scenery can make for a memorable road trip. Those furry forest animals, however, can create a substantial hazard if they decide to cross your path; and not just while you’re driving. If a bear decides to rip into your vehicle to check out the tempting scent of your leftovers, or loose cattle bump into your car and crunch your door, you may be left wondering whether or not your insurance company is going to believe you, much less provide coverage for your damage.

Fortunately, your insurance company has probably “seen it all,” and they handle damage caused by animals in much the same way that they handle a vandalism claim. If you’ve got comprehensive coverage, you should be in the clear.

8. Rodent Damage

There are many reasons why a car won’t start: dead battery, no fuel, extremely low temperatures, etc. Your insurance policy does not provide coverage for maintenance or normal wear and tear issues on your vehicle. But what if the reason your car won’t start is due to rodents chewing away at your wiring and making a home under the hood? Seriously – it happens.

The cost to repair damage caused by rodents feasting on the electrical components of your car can range into the thousands, but your insurance company mercifully won’t make you bear the burden of the repair cost if your policy includes comprehensive coverage. This jack-of-all-trades coverage type applies to lots of different scenarios in which your vehicle suffers damage, so it’s good to know you’re also covered in the case of damaged wiring from rodents.

 

Being surprised by your insurance company is rarely pleasant, but being covered for an incident you didn’t think would be covered is a huge relief. Your insurance policy is intended to provide peace of mind, and hopefully with this list, you’ll feel much more confident in the coverage you carry. If you have concerns that you may not be covered for the incidents in this article, or even things on which we haven’t touch, you should contact your insurance provider for clarification. And if you don’t feel adequately covered or supported, you can always shop around for a company that meets your specific needs.