Does auto insurance cover rust?

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Here's what you need to know...
  • Cars generally begin to rust in areas that are prone to high amount of rain and snow
  • Since rust is a form of corrosion that happens over time, it may not be covered
  • All insurance policies contain wear and tear provisions that exclude coverage for damage caused by deterioration
  • If your car floods, it may be more susceptible to rusting
  • If you are aware that your car has rusted and it makes the car unsafe to drive, liability claims may not be covered

Car bodies are made of metal. Since metal can easily rust when it’s exposed to cold and wet climates, cars can rust over time.

While advances in the materials like carbon fiber, that are used in vehicle manufacturing have helped to combat this corrosion issue, no vehicle is completely immune to rust.

There are a few ways that you can be proactive to prevent your car from rusting. It’s crucial that you wash your car regularly and avoid driving through puddles if you live in an area with salted roads.

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While preventative measures can help to extend the life of your car, there’s no surefire way to guarantee that your car won’t corrode. Here’s what you need to know about your insurance if you notice rust:

The Common Causes of Vehicle Rust

Wet climates are a car’s worst enemy. Since most cars have some parts that are made of metal, there will always be an anode and a cathode that needs nothing more than water to develop rust.

Corrosion could come as the result of snow, rain, and even humidity in the air. The elements that are needed to corrode metal can be found all over.

If you live on the coast, your vehicle is at risk of rusting faster than the average car. If you mix water and cars, you’ll see rust, but mixing salt water with cars just speeds up the process. Since the ocean is made up of salt water, it’s no surprise that the coasts are home to rusty cars.

If you live in snowy climates, where the city salts the roads to get rid of snow on the roads and sidewalks, your car doesn’t need to be in a coastal area to become a rust bucket.

What is a full coverage auto insurance policy?

Full coverage auto insurance can easily be mistaken as a policy that includes coverage for all hazards. The term “full coverage” can be misleading because it actually refers to a policy that includes some physical damage protection for perils that are covered in the contract.

Unfortunately, not all policyholders are aware that not all perils are covered.

Will a full coverage policy cover damage caused by rust?

If you have comprehensive and collision coverage, your insurer will pay to repair your car or eventually replace it when it’s declared a write-off. You’re covered if you get into a car crash and even if the car sustains damage while it’s parked.

You might assume that rust is damage caused by the elements while your car is parked. If it actually fit this definition, there would be coverage afforded under your comprehensive coverage.

Unfortunately, your policy has a specific exclusion that says that any damage that is sustained over time is not covered. Rust falls under the definition of wear and tear or deterioration, which is explicitly excluded.

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Will your policy pay if you have an accident caused by corrosion?

Your policy won’t pay for the costs associated with repairing a rusted body component, but what happens if your car has rusted and something falls off as you’re driving?

Rust starts to be noticeable when your metal starts the oxidation process. This process weakens the metal and can cause a bumper or a truck bed to fall off when it’s been left alone for years.

If weakened metal falls off of your car because it’s rusted, it can cause accidents that leave others at risk.

When a driver is aware that the condition of their car has made it unsafe to drive, they might not have a covered claim even if it’s for third-party damages. Drivers who are unaware of the rust might still have coverage for at least liability losses.

Why was my car totaled after a flood claim?

Flood claims might not be common but they are filed. A storm that floods an entire neighborhood could easily leave your car immersed in water. A faulty emergency brake could even leave your parked car rolling into the lake.

If your car is suspended in water, you will probably have a total loss claim regardless of how the car looks once it’s dried out.

Flooded cars are not always totaled but most of the time they are. This is because state law says when flooded cars have to have a salvage title.

Since the water damage can leave the car susceptible to premature rusting, the state believes it’s best to make totaling the car after a claim mandatory. Check with your insurer to see how the claim will be handled.

How can you prevent rust in the future?

Since you can’t file an auto insurance claim for help to free your car of rust, the best thing that you can do is take extra precautions to prevent the life of the metal on your car. Here are some tips to slow down corrosion:

  • Always wash your car with water after you drive it during the winter
  • Wash the undercarriage of your vehicle regularly
  • Store your vehicle in an enclosed garage when possible
  • Avoid driving through puddles when possible
  • Maintain your paint and wax it regularly
  • If you notice paint bubbles or chips, have it repaired as soon as possible

What is self-insuring?

Self-insuring is another solution to consider. Rust repair isn’t cheap. Removal of a small patch of rust could cost you between $500 and $1000, depending on the size and location.

A good way to stay prepared is to put away a small amount of money each month so you have a savings to bank on if you need to be uncovered repaired.

Auto insurance isn’t always going to help you. You have to be aware of the exclusions that exist under your contract. If you’re looking for a more affordable insurance policy, start to shop around now.

Use our online rate comparison tool and compare the rates through several carriers.

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