Car insurance covers a lot of different events, including damage sustained during an accident. One scenario that many people question is whether damage sustained due to a fire is covered under car insurance.
The answer to that question depends on the type of coverage you have purchased with your car insurance. While Michigan dramatically changed its auto insurance law in mid-2020, those changes still provide drivers in the state with various coverage options, including two of the most common options that would potentially cover fire damage a vehicle sustains.
Below are some of the common situations in which a car would sustain fire damage, and what type of coverage you would need in order for your car insurance to help you pay for the damage.
Fire Damage During a Collision
Collision coverage protects you in case you ever get into an accident while driving, whether you are the driver who is at fault for the crash or not. In Michigan, drivers aren’t required to carry collision coverage as part of their car insurance. If you do not have this type of coverage, your insurance company won’t help you pay to repair the fire damage your car sustained in an accident on the road.
There are four different levels of collision coverage that are offered in Michigan. Here’s a breakdown of the levels, including how you are covered for fire damage sustained in a car accident.
- No coverage: You won’t receive any compensation from your car insurance company.
- Limited: If you’re more than 50% at fault for the accident, you will be responsible for paying all costs of repair. If you are 50% or less at fault, your insurance company will pay for the damages, minus your deductible, which you will be responsible for.
- Standard: Regardless of who is at fault for the accident, your insurance company will pay for the damage, minus your deductible, which you will be responsible for.
- Broad Form: If you’re more than 50% at fault, your insurance company will pay for the damage, minus your deductible, which you will be responsible for. If you are less than 50% at fault, your insurance company will pay for all damage. You don’t have to pay even your deductible in this case.
You would generally be considered at least partially at fault for an accident if you hit another vehicle, person or tree, for instance. Another driver would be at least partially at fault if they side-swiped you, rear-ended you or otherwise caused the collision.
Each of the different levels of collision coverage likely comes with an increase in your monthly premium, since each level provides better coverage than the previous.
Car Fires and Comprehensive Insurance
What happens if your car sustains fire damage from a situation that wasn’t an accident? Some common instances might include a defect with the wiring or mechanics of the car that caused a fire in the engine; your car being stolen and then lit on fire; or a fire from a nearby structure such as a building or house spreads to your vehicle.
In all of these instances, your car insurance company would not pay for any damage sustained under your collision coverage. In order to receive payment from your insurance company if your car sustains fire damage from a non-collision event, you would need to have comprehensive insurance.
Comprehensive coverage protects you from damage done to your vehicle in many situations that don’t include you driving on the road. In addition to fire damage, it provides protection in case your car is stolen or vandalized, or by any force of nature such as rain, wind, hail, snow, and ice.
There are some exceptions to what comprehensive insurance will cover.
Arson involves someone setting fire to your vehicle on purpose, with intent. If you started a fire that caused damage to your car — or if you helped someone do it — your car insurance will not cover the damage. In addition, you will likely be charged with a serious crime.
If someone else committed the arson, though, your comprehensive coverage will protect you, as long as you couldn’t have reasonably known that someone was going to do this to your car.
If you committed a negligent act leading to the fire in your car, your insurance may not provide protection. An example of this would be if you left a gas can full of gas in your car while it baked in the hot sun. This gas is very combustible and could easily ignite in this situation.
Sometimes, cars are damaged by fires in your home. In many of these cases, cars are parked in a garage, which then catches fire and spreads to the vehicle. In this case, it’s likely that your car insurance would provide coverage for the damage your car sustained, and not your homeowner’s insurance.
If your car catches fire because of a fire at a neighbor’s property, by contrast, then your homeowner’s insurance would provide you coverage. The same would hold true if the reverse happened — if a fire at your house damaged someone else’s car.
Work with a Trusted Car Insurance Company
There is no standard answer to the question of whether your car insurance protects you in the case of fire damage to your car. Whether your insurance company provides protection, and how much protection they provide, depends on the coverages you selected when you signed up for the policy.
In Michigan, drivers have a lot of choices when it comes to the type of car insurance coverages they can have. While choice is never a bad thing, it can be confusing at times.
That’s why you should work with an experienced and trusted car insurance company such as Signature Insurance. We have been helping drivers in Michigan just like you for years, providing guidance on the different options you have for car insurance coverage, as well as some of the best rates around.
Contact us today to find out more and to get a free quote.
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Contact us at (586) 274-9600 and we’ll be happy to get quote for you from many of the top auto insurance companies or home insurance companies in Metro Detroit.