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Fire damage can be covered by your auto insurance if you have optional comprehensive insurance or supplemental fire insurance. Standard collision insurance may not cover fire damage.
Fires can happen anywhere and at any time, though some areas are far more prone than others to unpredictable wildfires. If you want to be protected against one of nature’s most destructive forces, however, you may need to increase your coverage.
To maximize your coverage against natural (or in some cases, manmade) disasters like fire, download the car insurance comparison shopping and broker app Jerry. Answer a few simple questions (that take roughly 45 seconds to complete) and you’ll be presented with competitive quotes from up to 50 top insurers.
The best part? The average Jerry driver saves $879 a year on car insurance! Read on to learn about car insurance and fire damage.
What’s considered fire damage for insurance purposes?
In short, insurance companies consider "fire damage" to be virtually any damage caused by a fire not directly related to a collision.
If a head-on collision caused an engine fire, for example, this would probably be covered under collision insurance.
Here are a few situations that would be considered fire damage by an insurance company:
- An internal fire caused by a malfunction in your car’s engine or wiring
- A fire outside the car that spreads and catches the car on fire
- Property fires (such as garages) that aren’t otherwise covered by building or home insurance
- A deliberate fire caused by someone other than the owner (obviously this excludes someone having their car set on fire so they can collect the insurance money)
Do note that insurance can be complex, and the language used in your policy will be worded very carefully. Fires caused by acts of terrorism and natural disasters, for instance, might be excluded from this coverage. Even if fire-related damage seems like it would fall into one of the categories above, your policy may state otherwise.
Key Takeaway Insurance companies consider "fire damage" to be virtually any damage caused by a fire not directly related to a collision.
Does car insurance cover fire damage?
The short answer is: fire damage can be covered by insurance. If you’ve chosen to enroll in collision coverage alone, then you’re likely to have to cover all fire-related expenses on your own (again, unless it’s from a collision).
Comprehensive coverage includes things like vandalism, theft, and natural disasters, and other severe weather issues.
If you’re not sold on comprehensive insurance but fires are a very real threat to your car, you may be able to opt into separate supplemental fire insurance. This covers a much wider range of fire damage.
Does car insurance cover wildfire damage?
The same applies to wildfire damage to some extent. Wildfires would be considered "Acts of God," and so they would be covered under comprehensive coverage but not collision coverage.
MORE: Cheap car insurance
Does smoke damage count as fire damage?
In general, you should be able to handle smoke damage without throwing your insurance company into the mix.
Smoke alone may not be enough damage for filing a claim. When in doubt, you can always check the language in your policy to make sure.
If your car has been exposed to heavy amounts of smoke, check your air filter. With enough smoke running through it, it may need to be replaced.
If so much smoke has come through your filter or open windows that it has become ingrained into the fabrics, you may need to use a little elbow grease to get the smell out of the interior as well.
Can ash cause damage to your car?
You may be surprised to learn that ash can be pretty harmful to your car. It may seem harmless enough to just wipe it off the surface of your car, but when ash has a chance to settle on your car, it can start reacting with the paint.
The longer the ash stays on the car, the more it will be able to react. When this happens, it can corrode the paint and even tear it away when you try to remove it. This is even more of a risk once it gets wet.
Be sure to carefully remove any ash that settles on your car ASAP. Very carefully. Which, ironically, means blasting it off with a high-pressure hose.
Just make sure you don’t wipe it down dry, or you might find yourself paying the cost of a new paint job.
Can fire damage make my insurance go up?
This is one of the most common questions people have about any kind of damage related to their car. The good news is, there’s a chance that it won’t.
When you are not at fault
In lots of states, there are rules in place that keep insurance companies from making you pay more for your insurance if a claim isn’t for something that is your fault. Natural disasters like wildfires aren’t things you should be punished for, so you shouldn’t expect higher rates if they affect your car.
When you are at fault
If you caused the fire, that changes things. You could be at fault if the fire was, well, your fault. That would make you more likely to see an increased rate.
And the same is true if it’s clear that a car fire was caused by your own negligence. Let’s say you leave a bucket of gasoline, a pile of kindling, and a case of lighters in your car on a summer day in Tucson. In this example, if the car goes up in flames, you’d be pretty likely to be at fault for the fire.
You could also see your rates go up if you file lots of claims in a short time. In either case, your state and policy may differ on some or all of these rules.
MORE: What is no-fault insurance?.
How to insure your car against fire damage
If you’re looking to ensure you’re fully insured against fire damage, you’ll need to look into comprehensive and supplemental insurance options. A good place to start is by shopping for car insurance quotes online.
If you live in an area where fire, ash, and wildfires are quite common, you may want to make the change sooner than later, and Jerry can help. You’ll get competitive quotes from dozens of companies in less than a minute, helping you get the best coverage that won’t burn your bank account.
"Honestly, finding insurance quotes is quite difficult. Jerry made this whole process a lot easier. I thought I was getting a good rate before but it turns out I could save a lot more and get better coverage thanks to what they found! Thanks!"—Melanie K.
Frequently asked questions
Does liability cover fire damage on a car?
It may depend on who is at fault, whose car caused the fire to start, and the kind of damage that was done. If someone else’s car is damaged by a fire caused by your car, or vice versa, you may need to file a claim through your liability coverage.
Is fire damage covered by insurance?
Fire damage is covered by comprehensive insurance and supplemental fire insurance. Collision insurance will not cover fire damage unless it is related to a collision.
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