Car insurance covers repairs to your vehicle after an accident. It also provides coverage for injuries sustained by you and your passengers. Common add-ons include coverage for rental vehicles after an accident and collision coverage to defray the cost of car repairs if you hit a tree, fence, or another vehicle.
Along with these familiar options, however, are some lesser-known coverages for your car. Here are 6 things you may not realize your car insurance could cover.
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1. Medical Bill Payments
You may face significant medical bills if you or your passengers are injured in an accident. Car insurance can help offset this cost with medical bill payments coverage, also called MedPay.
This coverage helps policyholders with costs such as doctor and hospital visits, surgeries, and X-rays. Depending on your policy, MedPay may cover some or all of your medical expenses up to a fixed amount. In most states, MedPay insurance is optional, but there are two states — Wisconsin and Maine — that require all drivers to carry medical bill payments insurance.
MedPay is similar to personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which also provides medical care after an accident. While both cover doctor visits, surgery, and medication, MedPay does not cover lost wages or services such as housekeeping or childcare, while PIP does. MedPay, however, may be sold in smaller amounts, such as $1,000 to $5,000, whereas PIP policies provide larger coverage amounts but are also more expensive.
2. Decontamination Services
Cars get dirty. In most cases, keeping cars clean is the responsibility of owners, but there are cases where insurance may pay to have your car detailed or decontaminated.
For example, if your car is stolen and recovered, you may find it reeking of stale cigarette smoke or stained by various unknown substances. Because theft is named peril in car insurance policies, companies may cover some or all of the cost of having the vehicle professionally detailed.
Decontamination services may also apply if your vehicle’s interior is contaminated after an accident with an object or animal. In these cases, your insurance policy may cover decontamination to remove persistent smells or unpleasant stains.
It’s worth noting that not every car insurance policy offers decontamination services, and the amount covered varies by provider. In addition, these services are not guaranteed. In some cases, even the best efforts at cleaning vehicles cannot restore them to their original condition.
3. Rodent Damage
Small rodents such as rats and mice may cause damage to vehicles by crawling into engines and chewing the wires. Depending on your insurance policy, you may be covered for rodent damage under your comprehensive policy. In some cases, the damage is obvious: Your vehicle won’t start, or you can hear the sounds of mice or rats scurrying around inside your engine. In others, problems may not present themselves until an inopportune moment, such as when you’re cruising along the highway at 80 miles an hour.
To check for rodent damage, open your vehicle’s hood and shine a flashlight inside. Look for small teeth marks on any exposed wires, and keep an eye out for rat or mouse droppings. The latter are signs that rodents have taken residence in your car and may return. If you are covered, you can make a claim to have rodent damage fixed under your insurance policy.
4. Pet Injury
MedPay and PIP policies cover humans in vehicles, but in most cases, standard injury coverage does not extend to any furry friends you have in the car at the time of an accident.
Some insurers may offer pet coverage, which can help defray the cost of vet bills if pets are injured. Pet policy limits are typically in the several hundred dollar range. This means they may not cover the entire cost of a vet visit, especially if injuries are more serious, but they can be useful for a checkup after an accident.
There are also a limited number of insurance companies that sell pet policies. While this type of coverage is becoming more popular, it may take some time to find a provider that offers pet coverage.
5. Falling Objects
Coverage for falling objects, such as tree branches or power lines, is commonplace under comprehensive insurance policies.
What’s not so well-known is that comprehensive insurance also covers falling space debris such as meteors, asteroids, or satellite parts. While the likelihood of a meteor striking your vehicle is relatively low, the high speed of this debris can cause severe damage to cars and serious injury to anyone inside.
Your liability coverage, meanwhile, applies if falling space debris causes an accident. For example, if a meteor falls on the hood of your car, you lose control and smash into another vehicle; liability coverage helps pay for any damages to the other vehicle or medical expenses incurred by the other driver.
This coverage may also extend to falling debris from natural disasters such as volcanos. For example, the ash released by an exploding volcano can damage vehicle paint and engine functions. Check with your insurance provider to see if they provide this type of coverage, and if so, how much you can claim for falling debris damage.
6. Wild Animals
Comprehensive insurance also covers damage caused if you avoid a wild animal, if an animal crashes into your vehicle, or if your vehicle is damaged by an animal.
Some possible scenarios include swerving to avoid a deer and hitting a tree instead or if a herd of elk suddenly crosses the road and strikes your car. Coverage may also apply if a bear breaks into your vehicle to forage for food.
It’s worth noting that no matter the policy type or what it covers, deductibles and coverage limits still apply. This means that if you make a claim for rodent insurance, you pay the policy deductible before coverage begins. For example, if your comprehensive policy has a $500 deductible, but damage to your vehicle is only $300, it makes sense to pay out-of-pocket as your insurance would not provide any coverage. Using your insurance may be more cost-effective if rodents have caused $5,000 worth of damage.
All in All
Along with coverage for damage and injury due to car accidents, your car insurance may also provide coverage for medical bills, decontamination services, rodent damage, pet injuries, falling space objects, and damage caused by wild animals.
In some cases, these coverages are part of larger comprehensive policies. In others, they’re standalone add-ons to your current policy. If you’re looking to expand your insurance coverage, talk to your current provider. If they don’t have the policy options you want, shop around to find out if other providers in your area can offer additional coverage to meet your needs.