Prevent your car insurance claim from being rejected.
Take a close look at the exclusions section of your car insurance policy. You’ll see a list of ways you could be accidentally voiding your car insurance policy. If you get into an accident and your claim can be traced to any of these exclusions, your insurer may reject it. Learn how to avoid these exclusions for a better chance at a successful car insurance claim.
Why would my car insurance claim be denied?
Some drivers will accidentally void their insurance policy without knowing it.
- Unapproved drivers. If the person behind the wheel is not listed on your insurance policy, your claim could be denied.
- Policy limits. If the cost of damage done to your car exceeds your limits, you will be responsible for the difference.
- Policy coverage. If you do not select certain types of coverages, your claim might be denied. For instance, you won’t be covered for theft or vandalism if you don’t have comprehensive coverage.
- Illegal activity. Driving with a suspended license or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can cause your claim to be denied.
- Not reporting the accident in time. Most policies require that you report any damage within a specified amount of time.
- Unapproved business use. Your personal car insurance policy won’t usually cover you for accidents that happen while using your car for commercial use. This includes carrying goods for pay or using your car as a rideshare service, unless you’ve added a commercial or ridesharing option to your policy.
What’s not typically covered by car insurance?
There are certain types of damage that cannot be claimed against most car insurance policies.
- Wear and tear and depreciation. If damage to your car was caused by wear and tear, defined as natural damage expected to occur over time with regular driving, your insurer won’t cover it.
- Mechanical breakdown. Car insurance usually covers damage, not failures. For example, you’re typically covered by insurance if your power windows stop working after an accident but not if they stop working from normal use.
- Deliberate damage. As a general rule, you cannot claim any type of deliberate damage to your vehicle.
- Tire, glass and other damage. Some policies may specify that they will not cover any broken glass expenses, or any damage to the tires resulting from punctures, bursting, etc.
- Personal belongings. You can generally assume that belongings are not covered by your car insurance, and that if they are, conditions apply. Your homeowners or renters insurance might cover your belongings.
- Driving outside the US. Typically, standard car insurance will not cover you outside the country. Some policies might have more specific location restrictions or will offer different types of coverage depending on where you are driving at the time.
- Lawful seizure. If your car is lawfully repossessed or taken, whether by debt collectors, the police or anyone else, it may not covered by your insurance.
- Unapproved modifications. Depending on the terms of your policy, you might not be covered for modifications. Modifications can include custom interiors, stereo equipment, wheelchair lifts and more.
Meeting your car insurance obligations
As a customer, you have some broad obligations to meet that apply to your policy for its entire lifespan. If you are found to have previously violated the requirements when making a claim, your insurer can reject it.
- Meet the duty of disclosure and good faith. You are legally required to meet your “duty of disclosure” and to only sign a car insurance policy “in good faith.” This means that it’s your responsibility to inform the insurer of anything that may affect the odds of you making a claim, such as a pre-existing medical condition, and that you only plan to use the policy as intended.
- Minimize damage. It is your legal obligation to take all reasonable steps to minimize damage to your car. This means taking it in for a checkup if you have reason to believe there’s something wrong, or pulling it off to the side of the road, if possible, in the event of an accident. This condition only applies to damage that you know about, or that you have cause to believe exists.
- Drive responsibly. Legally and responsibly are not the same thing, but you are required to do both. If you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and are over the limit, then this is both illegal and irresponsible. If you are taking blind corners at excessive speed on a road with no posted limits, then this is legal but irresponsible. In both cases your policy may be voided.
- Maintain an active policy. It sounds obvious, but your policy needs to be active at the time of your claim. If you’ve missed payments, have previously claimed a total loss or otherwise may have an inactive policy, it’s worth checking to be sure.
How to exclude a driverExcluding a driver from your policy can be beneficial, like if your spouse has a bad driving record or low credit score. In order to avoid the higher premiums that could result from this, you might want to consider excluding them from your policy. The rules for excluding a driver vary by state and insurance company, but, in general, you will be required to fill out a driver exclusion form.
What should I do if my claim was denied?
If you are denied a claim, the insurance company must provide a reason. If you believe your claim is valid, you can appeal your denial. Each insurance provider has a process for appealing a denial. Check with your provider to find out the process. You can begin by gathering all of the evidence and documentation to submit to the insurance company.
Another avenue would be to file a lawsuit if your initial appeal is rejected or ignored. Talk to an attorney to find out if your case could hold up in court. You can also contact your state’s insurance department to file a grievance with your insurer.
Ready to switch? Compare car insurance companies
Make sure you understand what’s covered under your car insurance and what’s not covered before hitting the road. This is especially important when canceling policies or switching insurers.
Check your terms carefully to avoid a surprise when it’s time to make a claim, and compare your options to find the best coverage.
Learn more about what’s covered by car insurance