Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • Electrical problems in vehicles can cause everything from vehicle malfunction to devastating vehicle fires
  • Car insurance doesn’t cover routine repair bills
  • If an electrical problem causes a fire that damages your vehicle, certain types of car insurance policies will pay for the damages
  • Proper maintenance of your vehicle can minimize the chances of electrical problems
  • Shopping around and periodically reviewing your coverage ensures you always get the best deal on auto insurance

An electrical problem with your vehicle can be a minor annoyance all the way to a major catastrophe. Sometimes, faulty wiring or a short-circuited fuse can result in something that amounts to nothing more than an inconvenience.

Perhaps your radio stops working, or maybe your power windows won’t roll down. Electrical problems can cause your speedometer or gas gauge to malfunction.

Unfortunately, not all electrical problems with cars are minor, nor are they all easily fixable. Bad wiring can trigger a fire that consumes your car and destroys it in minutes. FEMA keeps statistics on vehicle fires, and they’re kind of sobering.

One in seven calls to fire departments across the country involves a vehicle fire; mechanical failure (44 percent) and faulty wiring insulation (28 percent) are two of the leading vehicle fire causes.

A vehicle fire is a very real risk, and electrical problems contribute to vehicle fires. So it’s important to know whether your car insurance covers electrical issues. The following sections break down what is and isn’t included in a typical policy.

If you are concerned for your car’s safety and want better auto insurance, compare at least three to four policies today! Enter your ZIP code above to begin!

Routine Repair Bills

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The first thing to understand is the difference between a routine repair bill and actual vehicle damage. The way your car’s electrical problem is classified determines if there’s a chance your insurance will pay.

A routine repair bill is when you take your car to the shop to have it serviced. Oil changes, new tires, brake jobs, alternator replacement — these are all routine repairs.

You don’t file a car insurance claim when your brakes go bad and you have to buy new ones. The same happens when your transmission fails or your head gasket blows.

When an electrical problem with your car leads to standard maintenance, you have to pay yourself; insurance will not cover it.

Suppose your car won’t start one morning. You call a mobile mechanic to come out and look at it. After examination, they identify corroded wires as the source of the problem. Corroded wires aren’t something for which you can file an insurance claim.

Indeed, obscure insurance companies exist that sell policies covering routine maintenance. But these policies tend to be high in premiums and limited in what they cover.

You should tread very carefully when dealing with these companies, as you might end up paying more than you get in return.

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Electrical Fire Damage

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An electrical problem leading to a fire that damages your vehicle is different from routine maintenance. For insurance purposes, it’s more akin to a flood or storm destroying your car.

Your auto insurance policy may indeed cover this damage, but only if you have certain types of coverage.

Here are the three most common types of auto insurance and what each typically covers.

Liability Insurance

Liability coverage pays only for damage you cause to someone else. Most states require it as part of their financial liability laws for drivers.

If you cause an accident with another person and both vehicles are damaged, liability insurance only covers the other person’s damage. This coverage does not cover an electrical fire to your vehicle.

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Collision Insurance

Collision coverage pays for damage your vehicle sustains in a collision. Let’s return to the accident scenario above.

Suppose you have both liability and collision insurance when this wreck happens.

Your liability insurance pays for the other person’s car, and your collision insurance pays for your own.

But it doesn’t cover damage from electrical problems since this damage isn’t the result of a collision.

Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive insurance is what you need if you’re concerned with your auto coverage paying for electrical damage. This insurance covers damage to your vehicle from incidents other than collisions.

All of the following events fall under the umbrella of comprehensive insurance:

Most comprehensive insurance policies also pay for vehicle fire damage.

Not all policies are the same, though. So you’ll want to consult yours to be sure of what it does and doesn’t cover. But comprehensive coverage is the one to ask about for electrical damage protection.

Proper Maintenance

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Even though your comprehensive policy likely pays for electrical damage, this isn’t a situation you ever want to face. When you add up the time and trouble of losing a vehicle to an electrical fire, it amounts to considerably more than the replacement cost you’ll receive from your insurance company.

You’ll want to properly maintain your vehicle to minimize the chance of electrical problems. Here are a few tips to help ensure your car’s electrical system stays in working order.

Examine Wiring Regularly

The same way you check the oil and the tread on your tires, you should check your car’s wiring, insulation, and fusing on a regular basis. Find a trusted mechanic and have them perform this basic diagnostic test.

All it takes is one faulty wire or one place where the insulation has worn thin to cause disaster.

Double-Check for Water Damage

Always be wary when buying a vehicle that was exposed to flooding. Even if it’s been restored to working order, electrical problems can lurk beneath the surface.

Vehicle electrical systems are highly vulnerable to water damage, since it causes the insulation to rot and wiring to corrode.

What’s worse, flood-damaged vehicles often get assigned clean titles rather than salvage titles. So you have to be diligent when buying a used car. Have a trusted mechanic conduct a thorough examination before signing for the purchase.

Comparison Shop to Find the Best Deal

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No matter what coverage you decide on, you want the best deal on car insurance. You should always compare multiple quotes and review your coverage regularly.

Try to get three or four car insurance quotes before making your decision.

Multiple quotes provide a good idea of what the market is like in your area, and what a good deal looks like. Sometimes the first offer you receive can look great, but there’s a better deal out there of which you’re unaware.

Start comparison shopping today for better auto insurance rates by entering your ZIP code below!

References:

  1. https://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/reports.html
  2. http://www.consumerreports.org/money/dont-fall-for-car-warranty-scam/
  3. http://www.iii.org/article/auto-insurance-basics-understanding-your-coverage
  4. https://wallethub.com/edu/collision-insurance/7292/
  5. https://www.thebalance.com/comprehensive-vs-collision-coverage-527402
  6. http://www.consumerreports.org/used-car-buying/beware-the-flood-of-flood-cars/