Know the key reasons car insurance claims are 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. to make sure you haven’t accidentally voided your cover in the past. 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, then your policy may be void. This depends on the insurer and the policy and, naturally, does not apply to stolen vehicles. All approved drivers must meet their policy obligations and other conditions such as not driving against medical advice.
- 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, working as a driving instructor or using your car as a taxi unless you’ve added a commercial or ridesharing option to your policy.
- Overloaded vehicle. If there are more people in the car than there are seat belts, you can assume that your insurance is void. The same applies to all overloading, for both cars and trailers, in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations for specific vehicles.
- Improper maintenance. Your car insurance is void if your car is not legally fit to drive and not certified as roadworthy. Bald tires, worn suspension or brake pads, broken headlights or even an improperly displayed license plate can mean your car insurance policy is inactive. Regular car maintenance is an essential part of vehicle ownership
- Unapproved modifications. Depending on the terms of your policy, you might void it entirely by installing any modifications without getting permission from your insurer first. For some policies, this may only apply if you’ve installed modifications that specifically affect performance in some way. Either way, you should always get in touch with your insurer before modifying your car.
- Deliberate damage. As a general rule, you cannot claim any type of deliberate damage to your vehicle, with the exception of vandalism or theft in line with your policy terms. This also applies to damage done with your consent.
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. Generally, car insurance policies will cover damage to your vehicle. If that damage was caused by wear and tear, defined as natural damage expected to occur over time with regular driving, then you cannot expect your insurer to pay for it. The same applies to loss of value caused by depreciation.
- 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.
- 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 or similar.
- Unapproved repairs. Some policies may be voided if you get any car repairs from unapproved providers, while others may simply not cover any loss or damage resulting from those repairs failing at a later date.
- 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, everyday car insurance for everyday drivers will not cover you outside the country. Some policies might have more specific location restrictions or will offer different types of cover 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’s not covered by your insurance.
- Asbestos, nuclear, biological or other contamination. Damage resulting from specific types of environmental contamination is not covered by your car insurance.
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 can only take out the policy if you plan to use it 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 and you 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 premium payments, have previously claimed a total loss or otherwise may have an inactive policy, it’s worth checking to be sure.
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.
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