Published: April 2016
You might not think of water as a risk to your car. But left unchecked, water can cause all kinds of damage to your vehicle's engine or interior, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).
Fortunately, comprehensive coverage may help cover water damage to your vehicle, depending on the cause. Comprehensive coverage is generally optional, although your lender may require comprehensive if you have an auto loan, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Here's a look at some potential causes of water damage and how insurance might help.
Hailstorms can lead to water damage if hailstones break your windshield or windows, letting rain and hail into your vehicle. If your vehicle sustains water damage during a hailstorm, comprehensive coverage may help pay to repair your vehicle, according to the NAIC.
During a flood, rising water levels caused by heavy rains may get into your vehicle's engine and interior, potentially causing a lot of damage. The III explains that comprehensive coverage typically helps protect your vehicle against flood damage.
If rains are heavy, it's possible for water to get into your car even if everything is closed up. Imperfect sealing around windows, doors and sunroofs can let water into your car during heavy rains, explains Popular Mechanics magazine.
It's your responsibility to keep your vehicle in good condition, and make sure proper repairs are carried out, says the NAIC. So if your car is damaged in a one-off event like a sudden, heavy rainstorm, comprehensive coverage may help cover the damage to your vehicle. But if water slowly leaks into the car because of poor maintenance and causes damage over time, water damage likely won't be covered.
Comprehensive coverage typically covers damages not related to a collision for events that are out of your control. The NAIC explains that it generally doesn't cover problems caused by your vehicle being in poor condition — that's your responsibility as an owner. So if your car's windows were left down, or the sunroof was left open, and rain gets in as a result, any water damage caused by the rain is unlikely to be covered.
Comprehensive coverage typically doesn't cover water damage to equipment that's not permanently installed in your car, such as removable sound equipment or removable navigation systems, cautions the NAIC.
The III explains that comprehensive coverage generally comes with a deductible, which is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before your policy will start to pay for damage to your vehicle. Also, comprehensive coverage is subject to a limit, which is the maximum amount your policy will pay to help repair covered damage.
Water damage can be frustrating for any car owner, but the right coverage may help protect your vehicle. Your insurance agent can help you understand your coverage and help you find the policy that's right for you.