Car Fire Damage: Will Your Insurance Cover It?

In the unlikely (and unfortunate) event that you’ve found yourself typing “My car caught on fire; will my insurance cover it?” into Google, we’ve got your answer.

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Car Fire Damage: Will Your Insurance Cover It?Car Fire Damage: Will Your Insurance Cover It?

This may come as a surprise, but car fires actually aren’t that uncommon: In 2021 alone, there were about 174,000 vehicle fires reported in the United States. Most of these incidents were related to wrecks, but cars can catch fire for a number of reasons, including electrical issues, nearby fires, and mechanic mistakes. 

So if you’re one of the unlucky ones whose car went up in flames, we’re so sorry. But take a deep breath, and then let us help you navigate what comes next — at least when it comes to your insurance.

Your Car Caught on Fire – Will Your Insurance Cover It?

In an ideal world, insurance would cover all events, major or minor, that damage your property. Sadly, that isn’t the world we live in! That said, your insurance probably will cover a fire in your car, but, like everything, how much coverage depends on the policy you have — and whether you're found to be at fault.

Types of Insurance That Covers Fire Damage

Let’s assume your insurance is going to cover the fire, since most policies do (though really, you shouldn’t assume your coverage levels until your comb through the fine print!). If you have the following policies, you should be okay:

  • Comprehensive Coverage: This type of insurance protects you in a variety of situations, from theft and glass damage to natural disasters and, most importantly for us today, fire damage. It covers basically everything but the total wreck of your car, which is why comprehensive insurance comes in handy if the fire was caused by anything other than a car accident. 
  • Collision Coverage: If the fire starts following a collision of any kind (whether it’s with another vehicle or with a stationary object), then this policy should have you covered.  
  • Third-party Insurance Claim: If, according to all involved insurers, you weren’t the cause of the accident that led to the fire, then you may be able to seek coverage from the other driver's insurance policy. 

A word of caution: New Hampshire and Virginia are the only states that don't require car insurance or allow exceptions. So if your vehicle caught on fire in those states and you don’t have car insurance, you may need to look to your other policies or take legal action. 

But on a happier note: if you have the right policy in place, fire coverage may protect more than just your vehicle. It might also cover any of your possessions that were damaged in the fire, and it could even cover ancillary expenses, like loss of work hours and daycare. 

Factors that Influence Car Fire Coverage

Insurance providers love nothing more than an exception! Here are some situations that can be a little trickier to resolve when it comes to an auto fire:

  • Negligence: Say your mechanic accidentally left a tool under the hood that resulted in the fire. That’s negligence on the part of your mechanic, and you should be covered. Now say your vehicle was recalled, you’ve been given full notice of this, you haven’t taken steps to resolve it, and then the vehicle catches fire? Well, that’s negligence on your part, and that may not be covered. 
  • Theft: Another hypothetical: If your car is stolen and the thief starts a fire to cover his tracks, this should be covered. 
  • House Fire: If a fire starts in your residence and spreads to your vehicle, then most likely, it’s your homeowners or renters policy that will cover the damage to the vehicle. Any fire that starts in your garage however, is more likely covered by your car insurance. Wonky, we know!
  • Arson: As long as you’re not the one committing arson, then you should be covered. If you committed arson, well…we really can’t help you.

Word to the wise: Insurance plans can be a little kooky, and some have language that makes fire coverage complicated to ascertain. If your car has caught fire, we suggest reaching out to your provider to explain the situation. Whether you’ve experienced a total loss or just need to pay for a few simple repairs, your insurer should be able to guide you through this process. 

How To File a Car Fire Claim

So what exactly should you do if your car catches fire?

First things first, gather the relevant details, including your car’s make and model, a description of the incident (plus lots of photographs), any other driver’s information (if available and relevant), any police information, and your personal auto insurance policy information. 

Then you need to file a claim, which could be entirely online or over the phone. Follow your insurance provider’s directions, and be honest if you can’t answer a specific question. Part of the adjuster’s job is to investigate on your behalf, after all. Once you’ve started the claims process, you’ll receive an identification number. Do not lose this!

Finally, don’t forget to follow up. Most car insurance claims aren’t closed in a day. Be prepared to call back every few days, or check your online portal for updates. 

And remember, even if your insurance doesn’t completely cover the incident, there are other ways you can recoup any losses:

  • Auto Injury Case: Did your car catch fire because someone hit it? Were you injured from the wreck? It may be in your interest to chat with an attorney about a possible lawsuit. If you do decide to go that route, the attorney will handle your third-party insurance claim. But be warned: These cases can last well over a year, so this may not be the best option if you need funding quickly. 
  • Civil Litigation Case: Did your car catch fire following a routine inspection or mechanical fix? Chances are the two events are related, and you may be able to open a civil case against the mechanic. But again, you’ll need to talk with an attorney to understand all your options.

Lessen the Stress of Car Fire Damage With Marble

Dealing with a car fire might be one of the more stressful things that life can throw your way. But fortunately, your insurance doesn’t have to be that stressful! After you’ve filed your claim, come check out Marble, where you can easily compare car insurance policies and shop for new insurance — all while earning rewards. Get started today!