Life is unpredictable. You buy car insurance to cover unexpected costs – like the cost of an accident. Wear and tear, however, is a predictable cost: every car experiences wear and tear.
Does normal car insurance cover wear and tear? Does any car insurance cover wear and tear? Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about car insurance and wear and tear.
Most Car Insurance Policies Do Not Cover Wear and Tear
Car insurance is designed to cover unexpected expenses. You never know what the future holds, so you buy car insurance to protect yourself from unexpected future events.
Wear and tear, however, is not an unexpected event: it’s a predictable issue. Every car is going to experience wear and tear damage.
That’s why most car insurance policies do not cover wear and tear. You will not be able to make a car insurance claim for brake pad replacement, timing belt replacements, tire replacement, and similar damage. These are all expected costs of owning a vehicle.
If car insurance policies did cover wear and tear, then car insurance prices would be significantly higher: everyone would make a claim on their vehicle eventually.
How Wear and Tear Exclusion Works
Some car insurance policies will specifically exclude wear and tear using something called a wear and tear exclusion. This exclusion is a provision of your insurance contract stating that ordinary deterioration of your vehicle is expected and not covered by the insurance policy.
This wear and tear exclusion allows the car insurance company to deny certain claims. You can’t make a car insurance claim for brake pad or timing belt replacement, for example, because these items need to be replaced eventually in every vehicle.
Because of the wear and tear exclusion, insurance companies are not liable for covering certain claims. If you fail to properly maintain your vehicle, then the insurance company isn’t required to pay for damages when something goes wrong.
The wear and tear exclusion clause is generally extensive. Wear and tear exclusions can be found on both home insurance policies and auto insurance policies.
Examples of Wear and Tear That Will Not Be Covered
Your car insurance company will cover damage to your vehicle as long as that damage occurred from a covered event – like a hailstorm or a multi-vehicle accident.
Some of the items that will not be covered by your car insurance policy include:
- Rust damage and peeling paint
- Ripped upholstery and other interior damage
- Worn-down mechanical parts, including brakes, engine parts, axles, etc.
- Problems with the electronics in your vehicle
- General maintenance
In all of the situations above, the damage typically occurs due to normal wear and tear. However, there are situations where the damages above can take place during an insured event. If the damage occurred during an insured event, then it would be covered. If your car’s interior was damaged after someone vandalized your vehicle, for example, then you could claim damage.
In some claims cases, the lines can get blurred. What happens if your vehicle gets hit by hail but it already has previous body damage? Does insurance repair the hail damage but leave the other damage? Claims like this are handled on a case-by-case basis. Generally, however, the same insurance rules apply: damage that occurred during a covered event will be covered by your insurance company while all other damage will not.
You Can Self-Insure Wear and Tear
If you’re worried about the cost of wear and tear on your car over time, then consider self-insuring wear and tear costs.
Self-insuring a vehicle’s wear and tear expenses is straightforward: put money aside every month and keep it in an account. Use that account for any vehicle wear and tear costs. Think of it like you’re paying an extra $20 to $30 per month for car insurance – but you get to keep the money until you need to spend it.
Ultimately, insurance is designed to cover life’s unpredictable expenses. If your house burns down tomorrow, you don’t have to pay $400,000 out of pocket to buy a new house. You buy home insurance instead. The same goes for car insurance: you never know if you’re going to have an accident tomorrow or when your car will break down. That’s why you buy car insurance. You do know that your car will need future maintenance, however, because all cars experience wear and tear.
Whether you have comprehensive coverage, full coverage, or basic liability coverage, wear and tear is not covered by car insurance.