Experiencing a car fire can be terrifying and devastating. Fortunately, if the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction, your car insurance policy will likely cover the damage—as long as you have the right type of coverage.
This article will explain:
- What causes electrical fires in vehicles
- Which parts of your policy cover electrical fires
- What happens if your car is totaled or repairable
- Tips to prevent electrical fires
What Causes Electrical Fires in Vehicles?
While most people associate car fires with gas or oil igniting, electrical issues are actually the second most common cause of auto fires. Here’s what can spark electrical system fires:
Faulty wiring. Fraying, loose, or crossed wires can arc, ignite flammable materials, or cause short circuits.
Battery failures. Standard lead-acid batteries can leak hydrogen gas, which is highly flammable.
Lithium-ion batteries. Internal shorts or crash damage can cause thermal runaway. Once one cell ignites, the fire spreads quickly.
Accidents. Impacts can jar wiring loose or damage the battery.
Wear and tear. Gradual degradation of wires, connections, and battery materials over time leads to failures.
Gasoline, oil, and interior materials provide ample fuel once an electrical spark ignites.
Does Car Insurance Cover Electrical Fires?
If you have comprehensive coverage, your auto policy will cover damage from an electrical fire. Comprehensive insurance pays for non-collision damage from things like fire, weather, floods, vandalism, and animal collisions.
Liability-only policies do not cover electrical fires. But if another driver caused the fire in an accident, their liability insurance should pay.
Insurers may deny a claim if they suspect you intentionally caused the fire. Intentionally damaging your vehicle to get a payout is insurance fraud.
What Happens After an Electrical Fire?
Total loss: If repair costs exceed the car’s actual cash value (ACV), it’s a total loss. The insurer pays the ACV minus your deductible.
Repairable: If fixes cost less than the ACV, insurance pays for repairs minus the deductible.
Either way, filing a claim could increase your premiums at renewal time.
Tips to Prevent Electrical Fires
Get regular maintenance checks for fraying wires and charging system health.
Clean battery terminals and check cable connections are tight.
Avoid parking over dry grass or leaves that could ignite.
Address any dash warning lights related to electrical systems immediately.
Let mechanics know of any accident damage, even if minor.
Buy quality replacement parts and accessories made for your exact vehicle.
Consider adding comprehensive coverage if you currently only have liability.
The bottom line: Comprehensive car insurance covers electrical fire damage. But prevention is ideal, as electrical fires can spread in seconds. Maintain your vehicle’s electrical systems properly and get comprehensive coverage for peace of mind.
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