Does Car Insurance Cover Fire Damage?

Many optional car insurance policies cover certain forms of fire damage.

Nick Dauk
Written byNick Dauk
Nick Dauk
Nick Dauk
  • 6+ years writing about insurance, travel, and personal finances

  • Contributor to brands like Credible

In addition to insurance, Nick specializes in writing about business, entrepreneurship, personal finance, and travel. He’s been featured in myriad web publications, including Fox Business.

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Chris Schafer
Edited byChris Schafer
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

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Updated April 22, 2024

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Hazards on the road are unpredictable, and while most drivers will only encounter fender benders and similar traffic accidents, some will face vehicle damage from fire.

Fire damage comes in many forms, including engine fires, wildfires, accidental fires, and fires from vandalism.

These instances aren’t necessarily listed under a single “fire damage” coverage, and depending on the circumstances and coverage level you have, your car insurance may not cover fire damage.

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*Quotes generated for Insurify users within the last 10 days. Last updated on April 22, 2024

Rates shown are real-time Insurify user quotes from 100+ insurance companies and Quadrant Information Services data. Insurify’s algorithm excludes anomalous quotes and anonymizes personal details, then displays refined quotes by price, date, and insurer popularity up to 10 days ago from April 22, 2024. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer’s unique driver profile.

Types of auto insurance that cover fire damage

Simply having a car insurance policy doesn’t automatically cover you from all possible damage. Car insurance companies specify which perils and the extent of damage a policy will cover. For instance, liability insurance covers only the bodily injuries and property damage you cause to other vehicles and drivers; it won’t cover damage to your car, like if the car accident you caused led to a fire.[1]

Most insurance companies offer optional auto insurance that covers at least some instances of car fire damage. These coverages include comprehensive car insurance and collision car insurance, which are often bundled together into a full-coverage auto insurance policy.

Comprehensive coverage

Comprehensive insurance is an optional physical damage coverage that reimburses you for the damage your car incurs. But it doesn’t cover damages resulting from your car colliding with an object.

Instead, comprehensive insurance covers an array of damages, from vandalism and riots to earthquakes and floods. Most comprehensive policies include fire damage, including damage caused by wildfires, vandalism, and mechanical failure.

For example, if you left your car parked at your home while evacuating from a forest fire, your comprehensive policy should cover this peril. The same can be said for fire damage if your car was parked on a street and catches fire as a result of arson, an explosion, or even a missile attack.

Good to Know

Remember that with any type of damage, including fire damage, you’ll need to file a car insurance claim. This includes if your vehicle is damaged while parked in your garage, as some homeowners insurance policies don’t cover vehicles damaged in garage fires.

Collision coverage

Unlike comprehensive coverage, collision coverage only covers three types of damage: collisions with another car or object, pothole damage, and flipping your vehicle. If you collide with a vehicle or piece of property and the collision causes a fire, your collision coverage should pay for the cost of repairs or cover the total loss, depending on your policy.

Most car fires result from either mechanical problems or collisions, so you could find yourself in a vehicle fire even when the accident isn’t your fault. The good news is that collision coverage as part of your insurance policy should cover fire damage from a collision that’s your fault, but you’ll have to file a claim with your insurance agent.

When doesn’t car insurance cover fire damage?

Your full-coverage policy might list fire damage as being covered, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll cover fire damage in every situation. An insurance adjuster will assess the situation and determine if the fiery incident is covered under your policy.

For example, the cause of the fire may be a lightning strike or another unique peril that’s not specifically covered. Other exclusions may include fire damage related to your own negligence or damage caused by your participation in illegal activities. That’s why it’s best to speak with your insurer and get a clear understanding of which fire-related damages your car insurance policy doesn’t cover.

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How fire can affect your car

A fire can affect your car in the following ways:

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/1883c5aa7c/fire-and-lighting.svg

    Fire damage

    Fire damage can range from slightly burnt upholstery to causing the gasoline in your tank to combust. Remember that older vehicles are more likely to experience fire damage because of the degradation caused by corrosion over time.[2]

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/ab7cac8f9f/smoke.svg

    Smoke damage

    Smoke can damage a car in a variety of ways, including leaving harmful chemicals on the surface of your vehicle and getting into the vehicle’s components, which can cause damage to the engine’s performance.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/384ed78de5/volcanic-eruption.svg

    Ash damage

    A volcanic eruption is unlikely, but it’s still important to understand how ash damages vehicles. Along with scratching the exterior, ash gets into even the smallest openings of a vehicle, clogging air-filtration systems and causing damage to engines, transmissions, and hydraulic systems.

How to protect your car from fire damage

Even though fire damage isn’t always preventable, it’s still a good idea to be as proactive as possible in protecting your vehicle from fire, ash, and smoke damage. Here are some things you can do to protect your car from fire damage:

  • Follow local wildfire guidelines when possible. Leave areas where wildfire risks are high. If you must stay in the area, don’t park in grass or foliage that’s tall enough to touch areas of the car that can heat up.

  • Park your car in a closed garage. Leave your vehicle parked in a closed garage when possible to reduce the risk of fire damage from vandalism and natural disasters.

  • Cover your vehicle with a tarp. By covering your vehicle with a tarp, especially outdoors, you can limit the amount of smoke and ash that touches the vehicle.

  • Buy collision and comprehensive insurance. Ensure that you’re protected from unexpected events by purchasing a full-coverage auto policy that includes fire damage protection.

  • Repair your vehicle correctly. Purchase only approved replacement parts and have your car repaired by a certified mechanic.

  • Be cautious when transporting gas. Refrain from transporting gasoline in the passenger area. Always carry gasoline in an approved container and never store it in the vehicle.

Car insurance fire damage FAQs

A full-coverage insurance policy usually covers fire damage, but knowing which types of fire damage aren’t covered is just as important as knowing which policy you need.

  • What kind of fire damage does insurance cover?

    Car insurance may cover a variety of fire damage types, like wildfires, garage fires, engine fires, and fire damage from vandalism. Although these are typically covered perils under a full-coverage policy, always ask for clarity. Some insurance companies may exempt certain causes of fire damage from their policies or have specific criteria to define a fire damage claim.

  • Does car insurance cover cigarette burns?

    Most car insurance companies won’t cover a cigarette burn, even if you have a full-coverage policy. A cigarette burn on your interior is typically considered normal wear and tear and is exempt from coverage. Think of it in the same context as spilling a drink or staining the interior with mud; these aren’t covered damages under any policy.

  • Does car insurance cover fire damage from both natural disasters and accidents?

    Yes, your car insurance policy will cover fire damage from natural disasters and accidents if you have the appropriate coverage. Most comprehensive policies cover fire damages resulting from natural disasters, while most collision policies cover fires resulting from crashes.

  • Will your insurance costs increase after filing a claim for fire damage?

    Insurance costs typically increase when you’re at fault for damages, not when unexpected events happen to you. In many cases, insurance companies won’t penalize you for falling victim to an uncontrollable fire event; but some insurers may not cover certain damages in cases of negligence.

  • What should you do if a fire damages your vehicle?

    If a fire damages your vehicle, you should stay away from the vehicle until an emergency service person confirms that the fire is extinguished. You should then begin the claims process with your insurance agency. If you can’t start a claim from a mobile app, take photographs of the vehicle and surrounding area immediately to send in with your insurance claim.

Sources

  1. Insurance Information Institute. "Auto Insurance Basics."
  2. NHTSA. "Motor Vehicle Fires in Traffic Crashes and the Effects of the Fuel System Integrity Standard."
Nick Dauk
Nick Dauk

Nick Dauk is a freelance writer specializing in business, entrepreneurship, personal finance, and travel. His work has been featured in Fox Business, BBC, The Edge, Business Insider, and Bisnow. Nick is a first-generation college graduate, having majored in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Central Florida. His eclectic coursework, combined with previous managerial roles in the retail and broadcast television industries, have helped him develop an interdisciplinary approach to writing.

For nearly a decade, Nick has created content for mom-and-pop businesses and global corporations. As a travel writer, his global adventures have also been featured on Inside Hook, Houston Chronicle, Culture Trip, and Matador. When he's not traveling, Nick can be found in Orlando spending time with his wife and toddler.

Chris Schafer
Edited byChris SchaferSenior Editor
Chris Schafer
Chris SchaferSenior Editor
  • 15+ years in content creation

  • 7+ years in business and financial services content

Chris is a seasoned writer/editor with past experience across myriad industries, including insurance, SAS, finance, Medicare, logistics, marketing/advertising, and many more.

Featured in

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