You’re driving around town running an errand and suddenly—crash! Oh no, not my car, you think to yourself. After the dust settles and you catch your breath, you may wonder, will my car insurance cover the repairs? Some drivers may assume that buying auto insurance means their car is covered no matter what happens to it. But like many things in life, whether or not car insurance covers repairs depends on the circumstances. Who pays for repairs in the event of an accident? Are you responsible for the financial hit if your car breaks down? We’ll look at each of those questions below and help you figure out when exactly car insurance has you covered.
Who pays for repairs in the event of an accident?
While we hope you’re never involved in a car accident, they can happen to anyone at any time. If you have insurance, you might think your car is covered if you’re involved in a crash, but that might not be true. It depends on what type of coverage you have, who is responsible for the crash, if another car is involved, does the other driver have insurance, or if you hit something other than a car.
What if I’m involved in an accident with another car?
If the other driver is at fault in the accident, their liability insurance should pay for any damages to your vehicle. While that’s certainly an inconvenience, you can breathe a financial sigh of relief. However, if you’re responsible for the accident or the other driver is uninsured, repairs to your car will only be covered if you purchased collision coverage (or, in the case of an uninsured driver, uninsured motorist property damage coverage depending on your state). State laws do not require collision coverage, but if you’re ever involved in a crash with another car, collision insurance will pay to repair or replace your vehicle, regardless of who is at fault. Please note, collision coverage often includes a deductible, meaning you’ll likely have to pay some money upfront before insurance kicks in. If you only purchased liability insurance (bodily injury liability and property damage liability), this type of coverage only pays for property damage or injuries suffered by other people in an accident you cause.
What if I’m the only car involved in the accident?
When most people hear “car accident,” they immediately think of multiple vehicles, but sometimes it’s just a single-car collision. If you crash into a mailbox or telephone pole, collision coverage would pay for repairs to your vehicle. If you’re driving down a rural road and strike a deer or other animal, comprehensive coverage would pay for your repairs. Just like with collision coverage, comprehensive coverage will likely include a deductible. So make sure to pick an amount you can afford out of pocket.
Does car insurance pay for damages caused by natural disasters or break-ins?
As we explained above, liability insurance doesn’t provide you with any financial assistance if your own vehicle is damaged, but you can protect your car from theft, vandalism and natural disasters with comprehensive coverage. Sometimes called “other than collision coverage,” comprehensive insurance will pay for repairs or replacement (after you meet your deductible) if a tree falls on your car or if someone breaks into your vehicle, damaging the windows or doors. Depending on where you live and how new your car is, comprehensive coverage could be a good choice for financial security.
Does insurance pay for repairs if my car breaks down?
Generally speaking, most auto insurance policies will only provide financial coverage for repairs if you’re involved in some type of covered accident, have your car damaged by a natural disaster (flood, fire, etc.), or suffer damage from theft or vandalism. Unless you have a specific type of coverage geared toward breakdowns or can link the issue back to some sort of collision, you’ll likely be paying for any breakdowns, like a bad transmission or electrical issues, out of your own pocket.
However, just because car insurance doesn’t typically cover breakdowns doesn’t mean you can’t get some sort of financial relief in these stressful situations. If you purchase a roadside assistance plan or towing coverage, you can have help show up when you’re stuck on the side of the road. While you’ll have to pay for repairs at a later time, you will at least avoid some of the stress, time wasted, and money lost associated with a breakdown.
We’d also like to note that if you purchased your car recently, it could have a warranty. If something goes wrong not long after you leave the car lot, you can contact the dealership to see if they’ll pay for the repairs.