Your car insurance coverage shouldn’t be a mystery. Knowing what your car insurance does and doesn’t cover is crucial information, and something you’ll want to know before you have to file a claim. Feeling a little foggy about what your insurance plan covers? No worries. Read on for a fuller understanding of your coverage.

What’s covered depends on your coverage

The first thing to do when trying to get a clearer picture of what your insurance policy covers is to identify what type of coverage you have. There are six main types of car insurance:

  • Liability: Liability insurance protects you if you’re liable for the damage to another driver’s vehicle in an accident. This type of coverage is required in almost every state.
  • Collision: Collision covers the repair or replacement of your vehicle no matter who is at fault in an accident. You’re required to have collision insurance if you lease or finance your vehicle.
  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle that was not caused by an accident. Examples include: rodent damage, fallen limb coverage, and more.
  • Personal injury protection: This type of coverage pays for direct and indirect medical bills if you’re involved in an accident.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist: Covers vehicle damage and medical bills after an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver. This type of insurance is required in 20 states.
  • Medical payments: This pays for any and all of your medical expenses after an accident.

While this may seem fairly straightforward, your coverage also depends on which car insurance company you choose.

What’s covered depends on your insurance company

At Elephant Insurance, we offer pet injury coverage with our standard policies with the option to add additional coverage you need, but this isn’t true of every company. Many car insurance companies do not allow you to pick and choose in order to create a policy that’s right for you. Often, choosing a policy with a different company means compromising and not getting everything you need. With Elephant, we have extras you can add, like custom parts and equipment coverage, so that your insurance policy covers everything you need.

Surprising things that your car insurance probably covers

Now that you understand the basics of what your policy covers, let’s talk about some of the happy surprises that may be hiding in your policy:

Rodent damage: If you’ve ever dealt with rodent damage in your car before, you know that little mice, rats, and squirrels can do major damage. It can cost thousands to repair chewed wiring, ripped seats, or other damage to your car’s exterior. Luckily, most insurance policies cover this type of damage.

Car rental reimbursement: If you have collision, liability, or comprehensive insurance you likely have car rental reimbursement in your policy. This means that if you get into an accident while driving a rental car, you’re still covered.

Lost wages due to an accident: If you’re in a serious accident, chances are your injuries may cause you to miss some time at work. Your job may not be able to pay you for injury leave, but many car insurance policies can write you a check for lost wages.

Pedestrian incidents: If you or a family member living in the same household are struck by an uninsured motorist, your medical expenses can often be covered by your car insurance.

Meteors (and other falling objects): Your car being hit by a meteor may seem far-fetched, but this also covers other falling objects that may strike your vehicle and cause you to have an accident. You’re covered under the liability portion of your comprehensive car insurance.

Detailing: Finding your car vandalized (or worse, stolen) is always a tough, and often costly, situation. Luckily, most insurance policies will cover the cost to have it detailed if your car is recovered from theft or after vandalism.

Potholes: If you have collision insurance, damage to your vehicle caused by a pothole can be covered even though it’s technically considered an at-fault accident.

Earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes: Natural disasters like these are considered “acts of God.” Any damage to your vehicle is not your responsibility and is covered under the comprehensive portion of your auto policy.

Damage from wild animals: If you have comprehensive coverage, the damages to your vehicle caused by hitting a deer or having a bear break-in will be covered by your insurance company.

Travel expenses after car damage: This type of coverage kicks in when your car is undrivable when you’re a certain distance from home (often more than 50 or 100 miles) and you have collision and comprehensive insurance. This covers overnight lodging, transportation, and even meals. There is a limit on the amount that your insurance company covers, so be sure to have that number in your head before you order the lobster.

Surprising things that aren’t covered

Personal items left behind in your vehicle (theft of those belongings): If your computer, purse, or other valuable item is stolen from your vehicle, you may have to turn to homeowners or renters insurance to have those items replaced.

A person who lives with you but isn’t on your policy: Letting your roommate drive your car? If that’s a common occurrence, you may want to add them to your policy. Otherwise, you won’t be covered if they cause an accident while driving your vehicle.

Making deliveries (and ridesharing – business use): If you work for Lyft, Grubhub, or any other company that requires you to drive your own vehicle, you need a commercial auto policy in order to be covered. Your regular policy will not cover anything that happens to you or your vehicle when driving for business purposes.

Using the wrong fuel: Not paying attention while filling up your gas tank? Using the wrong kind of fuel could damage your vehicle, and your policy won’t cover the repairs.

Condensation in your gas tank: Condensation in your gas tank can cause corrosion, which is expensive to reverse. Unfortunately, your policy probably does not cover this type of damage, unless you can prove that it happened due to vandalism.

Routine car maintenance/wear and tear: Most of us know that if your car starts making a funny sound after driving it for a couple years and you have to get a part replaced, that’s not covered by insurance. The same goes for routine maintenance like getting your oil changed, or having the tires rotated.

Driving outside of the US: Check with your insurance agent to see what your auto insurance will and won’t cover before you go on an international trip in which you plan to drive. Most policies do not cover you if you are driving outside of the US.

Read your policy closely to find out what exactly is covered

You definitely want to double-check your policy to make sure you have all the coverage you need (with no surprising gaps). Finding out you weren’t covered for something essential after an accident is not a fun position to be in. If you find that your current policy is lacking, why not check out the flexible policy options we have at Elephant? Find out if we provide coverage in your area and get a quote today.

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Article last updated on June 25th, 2023 at 6:46 pm