Car Fire Insurance Claims and Coverage

Image shows car fires covered by comprehensive insurance including Arson, Garage fires, Engine fires and Fires caused by car accidents

The Balance / Catherine Song

According to the latest available data, there were 212,500 vehicle fires that caused over $1.9 billion in damages in 2018 alone. The leading cause for car fires is a mechanical failure, with three-quarters of highway fires occurring on older vehicles while they were on the road.

Car fires are always a scary situation. They can do a lot of damage, and they can occur in a couple of different ways. Comprehensive coverage will cover fire damage to your vehicle regardless of what causes the fire, but it's important that you purchase the coverage for your car insurance policy before the loss occurs.

Key Takeaways

  • If your car catches fire for any reason, be sure to call emergency personnel and get a police report for your insurance provider.
  • If your car catches fire, it is usually covered under your comprehensive insurance.
  • Most car fires end up as a total loss because the damage spreads throughout the vehicle.

What Is Comprehensive Coverage?

Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle that results from something other than a collision. Typically it's optional according to state law, but your lender will probably require it if you've financed your vehicle and it is the collateral for the loan. You're more than likely to have a deductible unless you're paying extra not to have one.

If a fire causes $3,000 worth of damage to your car and you have a $500 deductible on your comprehensive coverage, your insurance company will pay $2,500 of the costs of repairs. 

Car Fire From Arson

You don't often hear about cars being set on fire intentionally, but it happens. This is typically be considered a criminal act—at the very least, it is considered vandalism. You must file a police report in this case to receive coverage. The comprehensive coverage portion of your policy should cover your vehicle.

Garage Fires

A garage fire can cause a whole lot of damage not only to your home and its contents but to your vehicles as well.

Comprehensive coverage is your only option for compensation if your car is parked in your garage and it sustains damage from a fire. Home owner's policies don't cover automobiles.

Engine Fires

Sometimes vehicle engines can catch on fire due to mechanical problems. Although car insurance policies typically don't cover mechanical failure, fire is an exception.

Comprehensive coverage will cover the cost to repair your vehicle if your engine becomes engulfed in flames while you're driving on a highway, but you might well have a total loss on your hands instead—the vehicle can't be repaired and saved. Your car insurance policy will pay the actual cash value of your car, less your deductible.

Fire From a Car Accident

It usually takes a pretty severe accident to start a fire. Unfortunately, it does happen sometimes. It's probably a good idea to review the situation with your claims adjuster if you were in a collision and a fire started due to the incident. 

Whether the accident would fall under collision or comprehensive coverage will vary according to your exact circumstances and your insurance carrier.

Even if you don't have collision coverage on your insurance policy, there's a chance that you could still be covered if you have comprehensive coverage.

When Your Vehicle Is a Total Loss 

Be sure to call the appropriate authorities as soon as possible if you find that you can't put your car fire out yourself or if you're not sure that you got it out entirely.

Car fires often cause the vehicle to be a total loss. Having comprehensive coverage can make a horrible situation a little more bearable because you'll know you won't have to cover the expenses all on your own.

For example, Progressive's comprehensive coverage could pay you the value of your vehicle minus any deductible. The company says it could also cover damages for a car that's stolen but recovered severely damaged.

Review your policy because it's always better to know what your car insurance policy covers before a loss occurs, so you're not surprised in a claim situation.

If you don't have comprehensive coverage, it might be worth it to invest in it.