Surprising Things Auto Insurance Doesn’t Cover

While vehicle insurance generally provides coverage for a wide range of risks associated with owning and operating a vehicle, there are some surprising things that may not be covered by standard car insurance policies. It’s important to review your specific policy or consult with your agent or insurer to understand the exact coverage you have and see if you can buy additional coverage for some of the things that may be important to you. However, here are a few examples of things that might not be covered:

  1. Personal belongings: Most automobile insurance policies do not cover personal belongings inside the vehicle, such as laptops, smartphones, or other valuable items. These items may be covered under separate home or renters insurance policies.
  2. Mechanical failures and wear-and-tear: Vehicle insurance typically covers damage caused by accidents or specific events outlined in the policy, but it generally doesn’t cover mechanical failures or regular wear-and-tear on your vehicle. Maintenance costs and repairs due to mechanical breakdowns are typically the responsibility of the vehicle owner.
  3. A person who lives with you but isn’t on your policy: If your roommate wants to drive your car, you may want to add them to your policy. Otherwise, you won’t be covered if they cause an accident while driving your vehicle. Normally, automobile insurers ask about the people who live with you and rate them in the assumption that they will drive your vehicle. You should provide the required information. If your roommate won’t drive your auto, you should exclude them from your policy so that they don’t affect your premiums. Otherwise, you may appear to be hiding something from your insurer.
  4. Making deliveries and ridesharing (business use): If you work for Lyft, Grubhub, or any other company that requires you to drive your own vehicle, you need a commercial auto policy to be covered. Your regular policy will not cover anything that happens to you or your vehicle when driving for business purposes. There may be variations in definition of business use depending on company and state. So, you should check if your activity is considered business use and arrange a suitable coverage for it.
  5. Using the wrong fuel: Using the wrong kind of fuel could damage your vehicle, and your policy won’t cover the repairs.
  6. Driving outside of the US: Check with your agent or provider to see what your auto insurance will and won’t cover before you go on an international trip in which you plan to drive. Most policies do not cover you for driving in Mexico but many policies may include driving in Canada. So, you should check and arrange additional coverage as required.
  7. Losses above your policy limits: Car insurance only pays up to the listed limits. So, for example, if your liability portion only covers $25,000 worth of property damage and you cause an accident that totals a luxury vehicle worth $50,000, you’d be on the hook for the remaining $25,000. So, it is highly important to check your liability coverage limits and increase them to more comfortable levels if you can afford it.
  8. Pet injuries: Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee your policy will pay for your cat or dog’s vet bills unless your car insurer explicitly provides that coverage. A few companies offer limited coverage for pet injuries. If you regularly travel with your pet, you may want to shop around and see which companies offer this coverage and if it is worth switching.
  9. Racing or off-roading: Standard auto insurance policies will not cover any type of racing and some companies may require additional coverage if a driver plans on using their car for high-risk off-roading excursions. If drivers plan on doing any off-roading in their vehicle, they should be aware that their insurance policy may not cover them. Again, it’s best for drivers to check with their insurer beforehand.
  10. War: Traditional vehicle insurance policies typically exclude war or warlike events as covered perils.
  11. Intentional damage or illegal activities: If you intentionally cause damage to your vehicle or use it for illegal activities, such as participating in street racing or committing a crime, your auto insurance policy may not cover the resulting damages. Insurance is designed to protect against unforeseen and accidental events, not intentional or criminal acts.
  12. Modifications: If you’ve made significant modifications to your vehicle, such as adding custom parts or upgrading the audio system, these enhancements may not be covered by standard auto insurance. You may need additional coverage or a specialized policy to protect these modifications. Some policies may have a maximum limit like $1,000 for aftermarket parts and that only covers minor changes. If your modifications exceed this limit or result in a significant change to the vehicle, you may be required to purchase extra coverage to adequately protect them.

Remember, these examples may vary depending on your specific insurance policy and the insurance provider you choose. It’s always recommended to carefully review your policy documents, ask questions, and seek clarification from your insurance company to understand the extent of your coverage.

Protect Yourself With the Right Car Insurance

Standard auto insurance doesn’t cover every situation. By purchasing riders or specialized policies, however, you can protect yourself from most driving-related risks. You can add Rental Car Reimbursement, Roadside Assistance, Custom Parts and Equipment, and GAP coverage to your policy if you feel you need or will benefit from such additions. Most of these add-ons are very affordable and shouldn’t raise your premiums a lot. If you’re worried about cost, ask your insurer for ways to lower your insurance costs, such as increasing your deductible.