What To Do if You Have Fire Damage to Your Car
Does Car Insurance Cover Fire Damage?
There are many scenarios in which your vehicle might catch fire, resulting in significant damage to your car.. You may be wondering if any of these is covered by your auto insurance. Whether or not your vehicle is covered will depend predominantly on the type of insurance you have: comprehensive, collision, or liability insurance.
What is Covered by Comprehensive Auto Insurance?
If you have a comprehensive auto insurance policy, fire damage is generally covered. Comprehensive coverage pays for non-accident related repairs, including engine fires, wildfires, arson, or fires in the garage.
Keep in mind that comprehensive coverage does not cover intentional acts or fires due to lack of routine maintenance. Common causes of car fires due to lack of maintenance include:
- Leaky gaskets
- Faulty wires
- Engine leaks
Have your car regularly inspected by a professional and do not ignore lights illuminated on the dashboard.
Is Comprehensive Car Insurance Worth It?
Comprehensive insurance is not mandatory and it will, of course, increase your premiums. However, it is strongly recommended in areas where severe weather is common. Colorado is at high risk for wildfires in certain areas, and the hail season is one of the most significant in the country. Mountainous areas are home to larger wildlife, like deer and elk. In the unfortunate event that you hit a deer, comprehensive car insurance covers the cost of repairs.
What Does Collision Auto Insurance Cover?
Collision policies cover repairs and replacement of your vehicle when it is damaged in an accident, or collision. A collision can include running into another vehicle or into an object, such as a guard rail. It does not cover collisions with animals or non-accident related events, like hail, fire, or vandalism.
Collision insurance is often bundled together with comprehensive insurance. Like comprehensive insurance, it is not required by law in any state. Again, however, it is strongly recommended. Auto damage can cost thousands of dollars to repair, and collision insurance can help mitigate that cost.
What is Liability Auto Insurance?
Liability insurance is the only car insurance required by law in the state of Colorado. It protects other drivers in the event of an accident. Liability insurance covers things like:
- Cost to repair/replace damage to another person’s vehicle
- Medical bills incurred by another person due to an accident caused by you
Each state sets its own minimums for liability insurance. In Colorado, the minimum amounts for this type of insurance are:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death to any one person in a single collision
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death to all persons in a single collision
- $15,000 for property damage in a single collision
What Happens if I Don’t Have Car Insurance?
Again, it is illegal to drive a vehicle without liability insurance. If you are in an accident and you do not have minimum liability coverage required by your state, you will not only face legal repercussions (like fines and possible jail time), but you will also be personally responsible for all costs related to the accident. This includes repairs to property, vehicles, and medical bills, which can be staggering.
How Do I File a Fire Damage Claim for My Car?
If you have comprehensive auto insurance and your car was damaged in a wildfire, engine fire, or other cause not related to an accident, you can take the following steps to file your claim:
- Most importantly, be sure the area is safe and the fire has been completely extinguished.
- Call your insurance company and tell them you need to file a claim for fire damage.
- You will be assigned an adjuster, who will let you know what further documentation is needed.
- You may need to have your car towed to a body shop. Again, your adjuster can recommend where to take your car.
- Professional auto mechanics recommended by your adjuster will make repairs estimates. These estimates will be used by your insurer to decide if it is worth repairing or if the vehicle is a “total loss.”
- If repairs are warranted, your insurance will pay for the cost of repairs minus your deductible.
- If your car is totaled, your insurance company will issue a check based on the actual cash value of your vehicle minus your deductible.
When Should I Hire an Attorney for Fire Damage?
Again, if you have comprehensive coverage, fire damage to your car should be covered within the limits of your policy. If you have a legitimate claim and are having difficulties with your insurer or your fire claim was denied, it is a good idea to contact an experienced insurance attorney. The claims process can be complicated and unnecessarily drawn out. An attorney can help you navigate the paperwork and negotiate on your behalf to ensure a fair and fast settlement.
David Roth has helped hundreds of clients with all types of insurance claims, including fire damage. Please contact our office or go online to schedule your free consultation. We are here to help.