Does insurance cover hydrolocked engine?

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Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: May 15, 2017

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Here's what you need to know...

  • An engine can become hydrolocked due to water
  • Comprehensive coverage would provide the necessary financial protection
  • There might be fine print in your policy to be aware of regarding a hydrolocked engine

Driving in wet conditions can lead to a hydrolocked engine. Hydrolock could render the engine completely useless. If you can file an insurance claim, it will help you to get the repairs without having to pay out-of-pocket.

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What is a hydrolocked engine and how does it happen?


Hydrolock is an abbreviation for hydrostatic lock. It is what occurs when water gets into the engine. It affects the overall internal combustion, causing the engine to seize. The engine can’t run because the fluid enters the combustion chamber and the cycle can’t be completed.

Liquids can’t be compressed, so the pistons come to a stop inside the cylinder. The repair will depend heavily on how much water has been taken in, the condition of the engine, as well as whether the water has reached multiple cylinders.

In some instances, no damage occurs. In other instances, you would need to replace the engine.

Any amount of water in the engine can lead to a hydrolock. Some of the ways water can get into the engine include:

  • Driving through a puddle
  • Floods
  • Driving at the beach

Now, it’s also important to note that driving in wet conditions is not the only way to get a hydrolocked engine. It’s also possible to blow a head gasket and have engine coolant inside. You might also have a carburetor or injector that malfunctions.

The only way insurance will cover the cost of the repairs is if it’s water-related and if you have the necessary coverage.

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What kind of coverage is needed?

If the hydrolocked engine occurred because of water, such as driving through a puddle on the road, then you need more than what basic insurance would allow.

Your basic policy is what the state requires and only covers what happens in a car crash with another vehicle. The state mandates bodily injury and property damage liability.

Your engine doesn’t hydrolock because of being involved in a car crash (unless your crash sends your car crashing into a lake, river, or another body of water). Since this is unlikely, you need to look at having other coverage.

Comprehensive coverage is what you need to have on your auto insurance policy if you want the protection for a hydrostatic locked engine. You would be protected against weather-related damage including:

  • floods
  • rain
  • puddles

Getting the coverage is easy. When you get quotes, you can add comprehensive coverage to your policy. You can also get quotes from multiple companies to compare and get an affordable policy.

Filing the Insurance Claim


When you experience a hydrolocked engine, you can call your insurance company to file a claim. You will need to have comprehensive coverage in order for a claim to even be considered. An adjuster will be assigned to your case and an investigation will be done.

If there is water in your engine and can be tied back to a specific event where there was flooding, puddles on the highway, or something else, insurance will likely accept the claim. You can then pay the deductible and get your car scheduled at the mechanic for the needed repairs.

If there is engine coolant or another liquid inside the engine, the damage is likely the result of some other issue which is not likely to be covered by auto insurance, which means the claim would be rejected and you would be responsible for the repairs.

Insurance will look at when you add comprehensive coverage. If you add comprehensive coverage to an existing policy and then immediately file a claim for a hydrolocked engine, it could throw up a red flag for being insurance fraud.

You have to hold the coverage on your policy prior to filing a claim with the insurance.

If you want insurance to cover repairs to a hydrolocked engine, it has to be a result of water in the engine. Additionally, you need to have comprehensive coverage. Be sure to build your policy properly with plenty of coverage so you have more protection in place.

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