Does My Car Insurance Cover Engine Fires?

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Check with your provider to confirm that your insurance covers engine fires. (Photo: @askoldsb via Twenty20)
One of the scariest issues that can occur with your car is fire. It’s never expected, and it can quickly reduce your car to a smoldering pile of steel, plastic, and wiring. But if you have an engine fire, your car is covered by your insurance policy … right?
Your car insurance may cover engine fires, or it may not. It all depends on the coverage you’ve purchased and the cause of the fire. This article will help you decipher if your car insurance covers engine fires.

Minimum Car Insurance Doesn’t Cover Fire Damage

In most states, the minimum car insurance you must have is bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Neither of those coverages applies to your own vehicle at all. If you’ve only equipped your car with the bare minimum insurance to legally drive, then there’s a very slim chance that damage due to fire will be covered by your policy.
If you’ve selected only property damage and bodily injury liability and your car has an engine fire, you’ll be left with the repair bill. Engine fires, even just minor electrical fires under the hood, can result in thousands of dollars in repair costs. Sometimes the bill can be greater than the car’s value.

Collision Insurance May Cover Fire Damage

If you’ve purchased collision insurance in addition to liability insurance, your engine fire damage may be covered under one very particular circumstance: It must be directly related to a collision.
If you’ve been involved in a collision for which you’ve previously purchased a policy, and a fire breaks out under the hood, your car insurance may cover the damage. The fire’s cause must be directly related to the accident, though. Potential causes include:
  • A disrupted oil or fuel line that meets an ignition source
  • An electrical short from the accident that causes the engine fire
  • An outside source, like another vehicle on fire, that lights your car up
Your insurance adjuster will very carefully comb through the evidence to determine if the fire was directly related to the collision. After their investigation, your adjuster will rule on whether your fire damage should or should not be covered.

Comprehensive Insurance Typically Covers Fire Damage

The name itself — “comprehensive insurance” — tells the story. If your car begins smoking, smoldering, and burning under the hood, the damage is most often covered. However, even with comprehensive insurance, it’s important to know your policy inside out so you aren’t left with a hefty repair bill or burnt-out, non-working car.
Some comprehensive car insurance policies exclude fire damage due to mechanical failures. This can be something like an oil or fuel leak that ignites, and which might have been prevented with maintenance or repairs.
Other comprehensive car insurance policies may exclude electrical fires in the engine bay. These fires are often due to faulty repairs or accessories, not malfunctions.
Most car insurance policies don’t cover “acts of God.” If your engine fire is a result of flooding, lightning, or other weather phenomena, you could be on your own.
Generally, comprehensive car insurance policies are the only ones that cover fire damage of any sort, including engine fires. Know what your coverage includes before you experience an engine fire and learn the hard way.