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Will liability car insurance cover a fire under the hood?


Question: My car caught on fire under the hood and burned my wiring harness and damaged other parts under the hood. Will my insurance cover the repairs? My coverages are $15,000 per person for bodily injury and $10,000 for property damage.

Answer: If you only have bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverages on your car insurance policy, then your car isn’t covered for a fire in the engine compartment or any other damage it receives. You need to have comprehensive coverage for any fire damage to your vehicle to be covered.

With a liability-only coverage, your car isn’t protected by your own auto insurance policy. Liability coverages cover only others that you damage, and not you or your car.

Bodily injury liability covers those injuries you cause to others, up to your limits, in an auto accident. Property damage liability covers, up to your limits, damages you cause to other’s property, such as a car that you hit, but in no way pays for damage to your own vehicle.

To have coverage for damages your vehicle receives, you need to have physical damage coverages of comprehensive and collision as part of your car insurance policy. Comprehensive covers damages that are “other than collision,” such as fires, so it would be the coverage you need in your situation.

Even if you have comprehensive coverage, there is the possibility that this engine fire wouldn't be covered if it were caused by mechanical or electrical failure.

Many car insurance policies exclude damage caused by wear and tear, freezing, mechanical or electrical breakdown or failure. So, if mechanical or electrical parts started the fire and are the only things damaged by the fire, then even with comprehensive coverage this incident may not be covered.

If the fire spread outside of the engine area, then it’s possible that the other parts of your car that were damaged by smoke or fire would be covered, but still not the parts in the engine compartment.

If you have comprehensive insurance coverage on your car, then you should contact your car insurance company’s claims department to find out if your situation is covered or not.

If you don’t have comprehensive coverage, or your claim is denied, and you had work done to your car that may have caused the fire, then you should look to see if the person that did that work can be held responsible for your damages.

If the cause of the fire turns out to be a defect in a part from your car’s manufacturer, then you may need to seek legal guidance on how to ask the car maker to pay for the damage the design flaw/part malfunction caused to your vehicle.

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