Will auto insurance cover electrical fire?

An electrical fire may be covered by your auto insurer if your policy covers vehicle fires. Did you know that over 1 billion dollars a year are lost due to vehicle fires?

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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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 (BBB A+). 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 and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Apr 27, 2020

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Things to remember...

  • There are many causes of car fires, do not assume that your comprehensive coverage will pay for damages resulting from an electrical fire
  • There is a special insurance policy that is supposed to cover loss resulting from a fire regardless of the cause of the fire, but plans vary from carrier to carrier
  • Some comprehensive coverage plans exclude electrical fires from their policies
  • Your auto insurer may deny the claim if the cause of the fire isn’t one of the items covered by your policy
  • The auto insurance provider will investigate and pay the claim accordingly if your car is damaged by a fire caused by a covered incident

You probably have seen a car explode and catch fire upon impact in a movie, which is a little bit of an exaggeration and rarely happens in real life. Cars do catch fire sometimes, though. The cause of the fire could be as a result of mechanical or electrical issues.

Comprehensive coverage is supposed to pay for the damages caused by incidences unrelated to a collision. Technically, car insurance does not cover complications arising from mechanical problems except fire.

Companies differ in how they determine what causes of fire to cover in a comprehensive policy.

To be adequately protected from losses resulting from your car catching fire, make sure you have the right type of coverage. In this case, purchasing both collision and comprehensive coverage will protect you against a great deal of car fire related loss.

Compare quotes from various carriers to get the best collision and comprehensive policy deals. Enter your zip code into our free comparison tool to get started.

Electrical Car Fires

Electrical fires in cars are mostly attributed to short-circuiting and are as a result of human error. A car can easily catch fire in the wake of any of the following instances:

  • Mistakenly leaving a high voltage connection loose.
  • Incorrect installation of off-road truck lighting and stereos.
  • If a starter is incorrectly installed, loosely wired or if it is installed without heat shields.
  • Incorrect installation of batteries. Modern vehicles come fitted with two batteries to power all the cool devices we have in our trucks. Things could take a bad turn in a split second if the battery system is messed with.

Make sure that all of the above issues are addressed whenever you take your car to the mechanic.

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Other Causes of Car Fires

  • Fires resulting from the build-up petroleum products – Certain parts of our vehicles such as the rear-end differentials, power steering, transmission, and engine all contain oil, and if not properly checked, it can build-up and cause a fire. All it needs is just a spark and ignite the whole vehicle. Oil-based fires are not easily contained.
  • Fires originating from the exhaust system – Improper installation of heat shields or lack thereof is the major cause of car fires of this nature. These kinds of car fires can also happen when the vehicles catalytic converter becomes clogged over time.
  • Fuel-based car fires – Fires of this nature mostly originate in the fuel rail where the pressure regulators and fuel injectors meet. With lots of oxygen and other fire components in the area, all that is required to start a fire is contact with a source of ignition.

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Arson-Related Car Fires

Car fires related to arson are not that common, but if it were to happen, it would be filed under your comprehensive coverage as vandalism. You are required to file a police report before you file a claim if your car was purposefully set on fire.

If a fire starts in your house and spreads to the garage burning down your vehicle, you will file the claim via your auto insurance policy.

On the other hand, if a fire starts in the adjacent houses and spreads to burn your car, you can file a claim against your neighbor’s liability or homeowner’s coverage.

Most policies will easily reimburse losses resulting from car fires arising from either of the following situations:

  • A house fire that spreads to cars parked nearby.
  • If your car happens to be caught in a forest fire.
  • Someone steals your vehicle and uses it commit a crime and then burning it to destroy evidence.
  • Fires resulting from wiring or mechanical defects in your car.

In most cases, whether the insurer will pay your car fire claim will depend on what cause of the fire. Collision coverage would cover the damages resulting from a fire if the fire started as a result of your car hitting an object or another car.

The rest of the fires, or at least most of them will be covered under the comprehensive part of the policy. Cars with mechanical complications, especially old ones, may spontaneously combust because of a short in the wiring in the car’s engine.

What to Do If Your Car Spontaneously Catches Fire While Driving

  • Stop the car and turn off the engine. You don’t necessarily have to pull over; there may not be time for that.
  • Step out of the vehicle and call the 911.
  • Don’t go back for your stuff.
  • Stay at a safe distance as you wait for the police and the fire department.
  • Do not try to be a hero. Car fires are unpredictable.

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Filing the Claim

If you have a full coverage (comprehensive and collision) for your vehicle, contact your auto insurer and file the claim. Make sure that you have all the proper documentation, including a police report. The insurance company will the send an investigator to look into your claim.

If everything checks out, you will receive your settlement cheque in due time. You might have to pay a certain amount, depending on your deductible, towards the cost of repairing your car before that happens.

If the car was completely damaged, the insurer will pay for the car’s actual value.

Fires can have devastating effects, whether at home or in your car. Stay protected by getting the right coverage from a reliable insurer. Collision and comprehensive policies can be expensive but shopping around while comparing quotes can get you reasonable rates. Make sure you

Make sure you read and understand the coverage options before you purchase a policy. Enter your zip code below to compare quotes today.

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