A blown engine can leave you stranded on the side of the road and facing a huge auto repair bill. But does your car insurance policy help pay for a blown motor?
Unfortunately, a blown or damaged engine due to mechanical breakdown is generally not covered by auto insurance. However, if the engine failure was directly caused by a covered event like an accident, there are situations where insurance will pay for engine repairs or replacement.
This article explains when a blown engine is covered or excluded by car insurance, alternate coverage options like warranties, and tips for avoiding expensive blown engine claims.
Will Car Insurance Cover a Blown Engine?
Car insurance policies like collision and comprehensive provide coverage for damage to your vehicle, but have significant limitations when it comes to mechanical failures like a blown engine:
Collision coverage – This pays for damage to your car from an accident with another vehicle or object. So if an engine is damaged as the result of a collision, repairs would be covered.
Comprehensive coverage – This covers non-collision damage from events like theft, vandalism, falling objects, fire, or natural disasters. If one of those perils directly caused engine failure, repairs may be covered.
Liability coverage – If an engine is blown due to the negligence or improper maintenance of a mechanic, you may be able to use your liability coverage to pay for repairs. However, you’d typically need proof it was their direct fault.
Common Exclusions for Blown Engines
Since car insurance does not cover mechanical breakdowns, claims related to a blown engine are often denied unless caused by a covered event. Here are some examples of blown engine exclusions on auto policies:
Gradual failure of pistons, valves, or bearings due to normal wear and tear over time.
Damage from incorrect installation, repairs, or faulty parts during prior maintenance.
Failure of non-factory or custom engine components added after purchase.
Overheating and seizure from low oil or coolant.
Detonation and piston damage from using the wrong fuel or oil.
Sludge buildup and clogs from missed oil changes.
Corrosion damage to cylinders or crankcase from age and use.
In each case, the engine damage results from maintenance issues, age, or modifications rather than a sudden covered peril. These mechanical breakdown causes are universally excluded by auto insurance providers.
When is a Blown Engine Covered?
While a randomly blown engine is not covered, there are some scenarios where you can successfully claim engine damage under your car insurance policy:
A collision bent your engine crankshaft, requiring a full rebuild.
Your engine caught fire due to an electrical issue caused by flood damage.
A fuel line rupture after hitting road debris caused piston detonation and engine failure.
Rodent chewing wires led to engine misfiring and connecting rod damage.
Hailstones cracked the engine cylinder block, necessitating full engine replacement.
In each of these cases, you may be able to claim engine repairs under collision or comprehensive since a covered event directly led to the engine being blown. The key is being able to definitively tie the mechanical damage back to a non-maintenance related covered claim.
Alternate Coverage Options for a Blown Engine
If your car insurance will not pay for a blown engine, here are some other options that may help cover repair or replacement costs:
Newer vehicles may still be under the original factory powertrain warranty, which covers engine components. Check coverage time/mileage limits and exclusions.
Consider purchasing an extended repair warranty that covers engine parts past the factory warranty expiration. Can offset future blown engine costs.
Vehicle Service Contract
A VSC from your dealership can provide extended coverage for engine repairs from mechanical breakdown. Check contract exclusions.
Credit Card Benefits
Some premium credit cards offer rental car reimbursement and other benefits if engine issues strike while traveling.
Emergency Roadside Assistance
If included with your insurance or through an auto club, roadside assistance can pay for a tow and help getting stranded vehicles to a repair shop.
While your car insurance likely will not pay for a blown engine itself, there are alternatives to cover mechanical breakdown costs and minimize vehicle downtime.
Preventing Blown Engines and Costly Repairs
A blown engine can easily cost $5,000 or more to repair. Here are some proactive maintenance tips to help avoid catastrophic engine failures:
Follow the maintenance schedule – Don’t miss changes for oil, filters, spark plugs, coolant, etc. Keep detailed records.
Watch warning lights/gauges – Be alert for signs of overheating, low oil pressure, or charging issues.
Inspect belts/hoses – Replace cracked belts and hoses that could lead to breakdowns.
Clean sensors and fuel injectors – Prevent clogs that can starve the engine of fuel.
Flush all fluids – Prevent damaging sludge and deposits from building up.
Use quality fuels/oils – Stick to manufacturer recommendations to avoid detonation or friction issues.
Keep it tuned up – Out of tune engines run less efficiently and can fail sooner.
By staying diligent with preventative maintenance, you can significantly extend the lifespan of your engine and avoid claims from blown motors down the road.
How To File an Insurance Claim for a Blown Engine
If your engine failure directly resulted from a covered claim, here’s the process to file an insurance claim:
Move your vehicle to a safe location and contact roadside assistance if needed.
Take detailed photos of the engine damage under the hood along with any collision damage.
Obtain a written diagnosis and repair estimate from a certified mechanic detailing the cause of failure.
Contact your insurance provider to report the loss and provide all documentation. Explain exactly how the damage led to the blown engine.
Coordinate with the claims adjuster during their investigation and inspection of the vehicle and engine. Answer any questions thoroughly.
Negotiate the claim if needed based on justification of the engine damage cause and reasonable repair costs.
Receive payment once approved and arrange for engine repair or replacement.
The key when filing a blown engine claim is proving the mechanical failure directly ties back to a covered loss. Never assume engine damage will be covered. Talk to your adjuster and be ready to provide solid documentation.
Is Blown Engine Coverage Worth Adding?
Given how costly major engine repairs can be, adding extras like mechanical breakdown coverage to your policy may offer valuable protection.
Mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) is offered by some insurers as an optional add-on. For an additional premium, MBI will pay for repairs due to mechanical failure of engine components.
However MBI may have significant mileage and age limits. There are also typically high deductibles. Weigh the costs against the value and longevity of your vehicle when deciding if MBI is worthwhile.
Purchasing an extended repair warranty that covers the engine can provide similar protection against blown motors once the factory warranty expires. This may be a smarter long-term investment than relying solely on your car insurance.
How Does Engine Failure Affect Your Rates?
If your blown engine resulted from a collision claim, it may impact your car insurance rates at renewal time. Multiple at-fault accidents on your policy can cause premium increases.
However, a blown engine by itself is a mechanical breakdown and will not affect your rates since it’s not a covered claim. Only accidents and other filed claims that are paid out get factored into your premium calculation.
So while a blown engine can hit your wallet hard due to costly repairs, it will not drive up your insurance rates if mechanical failure was the cause. Keep your driving record clean to avoid premium hikes.
The Bottom Line
While a blown engine can strand you with a huge repair bill, auto policies like collision and comprehensive only cover damage that directly results from an accident, vandalism, or other insured peril. Gradual wear and tear or mechanical breakdown is excluded.
Maintain your vehicle properly, install protectants like surge protectors, and consider added coverage like mechanical breakdown insurance to offset expenses in the event of major engine damage down the road.
Understanding precisely what is and isn’t covered for engine failure under your unique policy is key to getting reimbursed correctly if disaster strikes your powertrain. Never assume engine repairs will be covered without checking first.
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