Protecting your car with car insurance doesn’t necessarily mean that every situation is covered under your policy. And many Americans aren’t familiar with the basic parts of an insurance policy – so you could easily misunderstand what your car insurance policy covers. A 2010 National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) survey found more than 60 percent of Americans aren’t confident in their ability to make decisions about their auto insurance coverage because many do not understand the details of their policy. This shows that consumers may need to brush up on their auto insurance knowledge.
Here are five things your car insurance policy won’t cover.
1. Personal belongings stored in the vehicle.
Even if you have the maximum amount of car insurance provided by an insurer, personal belongings that are stored in your vehicle won’t be covered by your policy. A car insurance policy will pay out if your car is damaged or stolen, or parts such as your car stereo are stolen, says Peter McMurtrie, a claims officer for Grange Insurance.
Belongings that aren’t covered under an auto policy include purses, briefcases, sports equipment and any electronics, such as iPods or laptops.
If you have customized equipment on your vehicle, this might be covered – but only if you purchase additional coverage or a specialized plan. For example, if your car has accommodations for disabilities added to your vehicle, such as a ramp, then additional coverage is required to protect that add-on.
2. Damage from nature.
If you only have collision coverage for your car, you’ll be protected if you get into a crash – you won’t be covered if a tree falls onto your car, as insurers consider this, and other natural disasters, an “other than collision” loss. This is also known, in insurance terms, as an “act of God.”
Other acts of God that aren’t covered by collision coverage include tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and hitting deer and other large animals.
Depending on the region and the risks associated with the location, the specific type of situations that are not covered will vary. For example, areas that have a high risk of tornadoes will have a clause or exception stating that tornadoes are not a type of situation that is covered. Other areas might specifically state earthquakes. However, if you have a comprehensive policy, you will typically be covered for any “other than collision” losses.
3. Drivers living in your home who aren’t on your policy.
If you lend your car to a family member, friend or even the babysitter, it’s typically covered under your car insurance plan - but that only applies if the person doesn’t live at your address.
If the people you live with aren’t named on your car insurance plan, then they typically aren’t covered – although laws vary by state.
4. Wear and tear.
Ordinary wear and tear or damage from poor maintenance isn’t covered by your car insurance plan. It’s your responsibility to regularly maintain, inspect and repair your car. Car insurance coverage won’t pay out for parts that are damaged or worn out from driving, or parts that are damaged by extreme weather. Ordinary wear and tear includes worn out tires and brake pads and frozen pipes and hoses.
Although car insurance doesn’t pay for normal wear and tear, it will typically pay for parts that are damaged in an accident or any other situations named in the policy.
5. Using your car for business.
Although a personal car insurance policy will provide coverage for a commute to and from a job, it might not provide enough coverage if you’re required to drive long distances as part of your work. For example, if you work in sales and spend long hours on the road for your job, then you might not be covered if you are in an accident.
According to AOL Autos, a personal car insurance plan will deny claims if you were using your personal vehicle for business purposes without additional coverage for your business needs. You can get additional coverage by purchasing a commercial auto policy.