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UPDATED: Jul 24, 2017
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While you expect to replace brake pads, tires and the oil on your car, you may not be ready for the high cost of a broken tie rod, damaged transmission or other major problem.
However, you may not have to cover these expensive repairs on your own. The insurance plan you have just might take care of the fees for you, and you can use a comparison tool to find one that gives you the coverage you need.
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Understanding Gap Insurance
There is a misconception about what gap insurance covers. Some people mistakenly believe that gap insurance is a blanket coverage that takes care of you if anything goes wrong with your car.
However, it is only designed to assist you in the event that your car is totaled in an accident.
If your car is in a serious accident, here’s what you can expect:
- The insurance company will inspect the car to determine if it’s more cost-effective to repair it or total it. They will notify you of their decision, and you’ll be informed of the final payment amount.
- Your title holder will receive a check for what the insurance company believes the car is worth.
- You’ll then have to pay the difference between the insurance payout and what you actually owe.
Unfortunately, people often believe that the gap insurance will cover other things, including missed payments and any repairs to the vehicle.
This insurance can never be used for fixing an engine, a down payment on another car or for adding extended warranties to your existing car.
While it’s wise to have this coverage if you finance a new vehicle, it’s important to understand that there are limitations to these plans.
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Comprehensive Coverage Is the Key
When you want complete coverage, you need to get the right protection. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reminds drivers that there are three different types of plans that you can invest in:
- Liability is typically required by the state and covers damage to someone else’s property should you cause an accident.
- Collision pays for physical damage to your vehicle if another person causes an accident.
The comprehensive plan is what you need for all other claims.
If it didn’t involve an actual collision while you were driving, then it may be covered under this part of your plan.
Comprehensive coverage does add a little to your monthly bill.
Once you decide to invest in this type of protection, you can save on your insurance premiums by shopping around for the best rates using a comparison tool.
You can also ask about different discounts to help bring your overall cost down.
Importance of Regular Maintenance and Written Records
Comprehensive plans are known for covering theft, fire, storm damage, and even falling objects. What you may not realize is that comprehensive may also cover engine failure if it’s caused by road debris.
This means that if you hit a pothole and a chunk of concrete flew up and put a hole in one of the lines in your coolant line, then the resulting engine damage may be covered under your plan.
Damage will not be covered if the insurance company believes that you simply neglected the regular maintenance.
They can claim that the damage came from your own neglect, and you’ll be on your own with the resulting repairs.
If you’re worried about road debris damaging your engine, there are ways to protect yourself. For example, shop around for the right coverage and insist on a comprehensive plan.
In addition, keep up with your regular schedule maintenance as listed in your owner’s manual.
Routine Mechanical Failure
In some cases, there may be a mechanical issue that can be traced back to the factory.
When a drive shaft breaks while the car is in motion, it can lead to an incredible amount of damage and high repair bills.
Your comprehensive plan won’t cover the drive shaft itself since that was caused by the manufacturer, but there is hope.
The consequential damage includes repairs to the transmission case and nearby body parts and damage to other engine components.
Hazards to Parked Cars
Even a car that’s safely parked in a garage is at risk. If rodents get into the vehicle, they can chew up cables, cause fire and generally damage the interior.
This is a common concern for classic vehicles that may be garaged for long periods of time.
This damage is often covered by the comprehensive insurance plan.
Some companies won’t cover the classic vehicles, or they have certain requirements that must be met, so it’s important to shop around.
When using a comparison site to find protection for your older car, be sure to include comprehensive coverage.
Multi-Vehicle Accidents Account for Less than Half of All Claims
The fact is that you’re more likely to file an insurance claim for something other than a collision on the road. According to the Boston Globe, 2.9 percent of all claims come from non-accident damage, such as hitting a pothole.
Storm damage accounts for more than five percent of claims, and theft accounts for a little over one percent.
If you’ve found the right provider and a solid comprehensive plan, then you won’t have to worry about getting your engine fixed.
Mechanical Breakdown Insurance
Many car insurance companies offer special riders, and one option you may appreciate is mechanical breakdown insurance. It helps cover you against costly repairs that are not covered by the comprehensive plan.
This type of protection may be worth it if you plan on keeping the car well past the manufacturer warranty period, and you can generally have it added to your insurance plan when you’re getting quotes.
If you decide to invest in this rider, be sure to ask for certain features.
You should be able to:
- Take your car to the auto shop of your choice
- Have clearly state deductibles that are based on each visit and not the individual repairs
If you’re facing a large repair bill today, then ask your mechanic a few questions about the cause.
The comprehensive plans may cover the repairs if they’re caused by road debris, and the resulting damage from mechanical failure may also be included in your plan.
If you like to keep your cars for a while, then it may be in your best interests to shop around for a quality mechanical breakdown plan that will help protect you from costly repairs down the road.
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