Wildfire Recovery: What's protected for my car?

Wildfire Recovery: What's protected for my car?

Wildfire Recovery: What's protected for my car?

Wildfires pose a threat to all property in their path, including vehicles that they can quickly destroy. Make sure you understand whether your vehicle is protected if you live in a state that experiences these fires.

Is My Vehicle Protected Against Wildfire Damage?

Auto insurance policies provide two main types of coverage for vehicle damage:

  • Comprehensive Coverage: Normally insures against non-collision damage, such as falling tree branches, fire, and animal strikes.
  • Collision Coverage: Normally insures against collisions involving at least one other vehicle.

Most types of damage that a wildfire would likely cause will fall under comprehensive coverage. If your car is engulfed in flames, it gets damaged by a falling tree, or you strike an animal that’s trying to flee the fire, these are all incidents that don’t involve another moving vehicle.

You could hit another vehicle when evacuating, however, and have a collision claim. Keep in mind that your chance of hitting another vehicle increases when driving in low-visibility conditions due to smoke.

Not every auto insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage and collision coverage, so make sure they're included in yours. They can be added to almost any auto policy.

How much protection does comprehensive and collision coverage provide?

Both types of coverage generally insure a vehicle for its fair market value at the time of the incident. Specialized policies might insure a collectible, rare or classic car for a specified amount, but these policies are less common.

Assuming that you have a standard policy with comprehensive and collision coverage, the policy will likely reimburse up to the value of the vehicle at the time of the incident (less any deductible). These funds are intended for repairing the car if it's not a total loss, or they might be used to pay for a new car if the insured vehicle is totaled.

Gap coverage may also be needed if you have a car loan or lease. Because vehicles typically depreciate faster than loans are paid off, the fair market limit of comprehensive or collision insurance can be less than you owe. Gap coverage usually pays the difference so that you’re not stuck with loan payments and no vehicle.

Are Belongings in My Vehicle Covered by Auto Insurance?

Auto insurance usually doesn’t cover personal belongings inside of the insured vehicle. Neither comprehensive nor collision coverage tend to protect belongings, nor do any other standard auto policies.

Coverage for personal belongings usually stems from homeowners, renters or condo insurance. Some policies provide “off premises” or “worldwide” protection in their personal property coverage, and this is what might cover belongings in a car.

Get Help With Insuring Your Vehicle

For help insuring your vehicle against wildfire damage, connect with a local insurance agent. Our agents can assist you with both auto insurance and homeowners insurance, making sure that you’re well-protected against many of the risks that wildfires pose.