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Is my car covered if it falls through ice?


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Question: If my automobile falls through the ice and is fully submerged, is it covered, assuming I have collision and comprehensive?   

Answer:  If your car were covered for falling through ice, it would fall under your comprehensive insurance. But read your insurance policy's fine print. There may be exclusions or conditions that leave you owning a very expensive Popsicle.

Comprehensive is the portion of your physical damage coverages that covers for events that are “other than collision.” So, if you purposely drove your vehicle on ice, for instance, to park and go ice fishing, your comprehensive coverage would pay for repair or replacement, assuming you have it.  Collision could possibly be used if your accident started with a collision on a roadway where your car was pushed onto the ice or your car flipped and ended up on the ice.

It’s possible that your car insurance policy might not cover this situation at all due to an exclusion for off-road recreational activity. If your policy says this, your insurer’s definition of this phrase would determine if driving on ice would be covered or not.

We’d recommend calling your auto insurance provider before driving or parking on ice. Verify with insurer that your comprehensive coverage will cover your vehicle. And ask your insurer if the extraction of your vehicle will be covered. If you have to pay for this on your own, it can be pricey -- $2,000 to $6,000 on average.

The New York Department of Insurance (DOI) told us that, in their state, some policies will cover the removal of an insured vehicle from the ice only once in a lifetime. Check with your insurance company to find out if you have any such limitation.

Don’t be surprised if once your car is retrieved if it’s found to be a total loss due to the water damage to the engine, electrical system, etc. If this is the case, you’ll receive actual cash value (ACV) for your vehicle instead of having it repaired.  The car would then be given a salvage title and go to your insurer.

If you had an older vehicle with only liability coverages on it and it fell through the ice, then you’d have no coverage and be personally responsible for the extraction of your vehicle and the repair (or disposal) of your vehicle.

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