Are electrical fires covered by my car insurance?

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Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Aug 3, 2019

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Each insurance company makes its own decisions regarding whether fire damage is covered
  • In the case of electrical fires, you will need to check your policy to see what insurance will cover
  • Never assume that comprehensive coverage implies every incident will be covered

Car insurance is designed to help the policyholder recover after a loss.

If there is a liability claim for damages or for medical expenses, your policy will issue a payout to protect your assets if you carry adequate limits.

All policyholders are required by law to purchase and maintain at least a minimum amount of liability coverage, but these same policyholders are not legally obligated to buy protection for their own car.

When you elect to carry full coverage on your car, it might sound reasonable to assume that your policy will cover it all.

Despite the industry term and what it might imply, full coverage does not cover everything, and it contains some serious gaps in protection.

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What does comprehensive insurance pay for?


Comprehensive insurance is one of the two types of physical damage coverage that you can purchase to help you pay to repair your vehicle if it is damaged in an incident other than a car accident.

There is a long list of different types of perils that will be defined as covered comprehensive losses.

Some of the losses that are laid out in the standard policy include:

  • Flood damage
  • Hail damage
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Falling Objects
  • Explosion
  • Collisions with wildlife
  • Fire damage

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What happens if you have a comprehensive loss?

If you need to file a comprehensive claim, you will need to speak with your insurance carrier and answer their questions about the incident.

The company will either send an estimator to you or ask you to go to a repair shop to see how much the repairs will cost.

At this time, you will discuss your deductible and must cover the deductible before the carrier will issue a payment.

Even if you carry a high deductible, the damage will more than likely exceed any deductible that you can hold on the covered vehicle.

If you are filing a fire claim, there is a good chance that the damage is severe.

The insurer will have a thorough investigation process when you are filing a fire loss.

The primary reason is to uncover the cause and to rule out fraud. If at the end of the investigation it is found that the cause is covered, a payout will be offered and the claim will be settled.

What types of fire losses are covered under auto insurance?

If you review the basic definition of comprehensive insurance, it will state that fire is covered.

Unfortunately, you really need to review the terms of your insurance closely to find out about fire scenarios that are covered and those that might not be.

Many fire scenarios are covered, but companies are only going to issue payment for those scenarios where there is no other party that should pay.

Here are some car fire scenarios and how they are covered by the standard full coverage policy:

Damaged in a Garage Fire

If your home catches fire and the car is in the garage, the fire can devastate your home and even total your car. While some might assume that they can claim their car under their home insurance, that is not the case.

All operable vehicles that are registered to be driven must have comprehensive insurance to be covered when damaged in a garage or a house fire.

Victim of Arson

If a car is set on fire intentionally by an arsonist, the damages will be covered as long as you were not the one determined to have set the fire. An arson claim is classified as vandalism and all of the damages are covered.

You must file a police report if the cause is arson since it is a crime.

Car Accident Leading to Fire

A serious accident can lead to leaking gas, smoke, and sparks. It is not out of the ordinary for a major accident to turn into a blazing fire.

This can become a complicated situation because a collision led to damages that led to a fire. Some companies will handle this as a comprehensive claim and others will investigate it as a collision.

Engine Fires and Electrical Fires

One thing that many people overlook is the fact that insurance is not designed to pay for mechanical failure.

Since an electrical fire is the result of a mechanical failure of an electrical component, electrical fire claims can be very complex and stressful ones.

Some companies will write directly in the policy that all electrical fires are excluded, but many companies will extend coverage as well.

If a company does provide coverage, they may pay for the damage caused by the smoke and fire but exclude the failed component from the claim.

This means that you will be obligated to pay for this out of pocket. There is a possibility that you will be able to file a loss under your car warranty if the component is covered.

Assuming that you are always covered when you have basic insurance can be a mistake.

If you would like to price the cost of insurance with a trusted company that has fair claims procedures, now is the time to retrieve quotes. Enter your zip code below to compare affordable car insurance quotes now!

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