Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: May 7, 2022

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In a nutshell

  • Does car insurance cover breakdowns? If you experience a mechanical breakdown and it wasn’t caused by an accident, your insurance won’t cover it
  • When your car is vandalized or there is damage to the mechanics caused by live animals, it may be covered
  • There is a provision in all auto insurance policies that says that damage caused by wear and tear is excluded
  • Wear and tear is excluded because insurance covers sudden and unexpected loss, not a loss that occurs over time
  • You may be able to add roadside assistance cover to your policy to help pay for tow or tire change services

If you own cars throughout your life, you’ll experience at least a breakdown or two if not more.

Does insurance cover my car breaking down? Your auto insurance may help you pay for some losses, but it’s not designed to help you repair a mechanical breakdown. Let’s discuss what you need to know about auto insurance coverage.

Afraid of your car breaking down and not having enough coverage? Enter your ZIP code above and compare at least three to four policies today to get the best rates for you!

Does insurance cover my car breaking down?

While you would think that newer vehicles would break down less, a study conducted by the American Automobile Association shows that newer technology does not equate to fewer breakdowns.

In fact, service call records show that drivers are breaking down more than ever despite driving a vehicle model that’s five years old or newer.

Since you can’t rely on technology to reduce the number of times your well-maintained cars will break down over the years, you need to invest in protection. One of the best ways to protect yourselves is to purchase a warranty.

Car insurance is an indemnity contract. The financial contract will protect the policyholder against economic losses after they have experienced a covered loss.

The key word is “covered.” You may experience a breakdown and consider that a covered loss, but according to the terms of your insurance it’s not.

For a loss to be classified as covered, you must carry the right type of coverage under your policy.

If you have the appropriate coverage that corresponds to the circumstances, the economic loss must be sudden, unexpected, and unavoidable.

People often call it accident insurance because accidents happen suddenly rather than over time.

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Does insurance cover my car breaking down due to wear and tear?

All auto insurance policies have a wear and tear exclusion built into them. In fact, all fire and casualty policies have this same provision.

The same exclusion applies if you’re carrying home insurance, renter’s insurance, or even some form of RV coverage.

A wear and tear exclusion is very specific; ultimately, it helps the insurer avoid paying for loads of different claims.

The provision that’s built into the contract says that the economic loss caused by normal and expected degradation and deterioration of the covered vehicle won’t be covered by the auto insurer.

The entire reason that breakdowns that fit into this definition won’t be covered is that the damage is inevitable.

How does a warranty differ from an auto insurance policy?

If you buy a vehicle at a dealership, you may be offered the option to purchase a warranty from the dealer or a different company that works closely with the finance department.

A warranty shouldn’t be mistaken for auto insurance, and auto insurance shouldn’t be mistaken for a warranty. A warranty and auto insurance are both two very different contracts that cover different things.

Auto warranties are designed to protect you from defects that occur during the manufacturing process that may cause your car to break down over time.

Most car manufacturers offer new car warranties that last for up to three years or 60,000 miles, but not all do.

If you don’t have a manufacturer’s warranty, you can buy an extended warranty for an added charge that provides more protection for a longer period.

While the warranty isn’t full-proof and won’t pay for absolutely anything, it does protect when your car breaks down in some instances. If you aren’t maintaining your vehicle, the coverage under warranty can be voided.

Does car insurance cover breakdowns if an accident causes a mechanical breakdown?

As you can see, all car owners need both a warranty and car insurance to protect themselves in every scenario.

There may be some instances where only your auto insurance policy will pay, and there will be others where both your insurance and your warranty will pay.

When you get into a collision with an object or another vehicle, it’s very much possible that mechanical components of the vehicle could be damaged at the scene or could malfunction shortly after.

You often see the cosmetic damage but fail to think about the aftermath and how the components under the hood have been affected.

As long as you experience a covered collision and your policy includes collision coverage, you don’t have to worry about driving a vehicle that is on the verge of a mechanical breakdown because of the damage it has sustained.

Your collision coverage will pay for any damage that was caused by the accident, mechanical or cosmetic.

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Does car insurance cover breakdowns if someone hits your car and you don’t have collision?

If you have an accident and don’t have full coverage, breakdowns that occur as a result of the accident won’t be covered unless the other driver was at fault.

You will have to see if the driver has enough coverage to pay for all of your damage and if the insurer admits their driver was at fault.

As long as everything works in your favor, the liable party will be responsible for paying for all of the damages.

Does insurance cover my car breaking down while the car is parked?

If you come out to your car and the vehicle won’t start, it’s hard to really pinpoint why right away. You can try to jump your battery or troubleshoot under the hood, but it might take a professional diagnostic to uncover what the cause of the breakdown is.

If the mechanic has located some chewed wires, it will be obvious that the breakdown was because of a live animal.

Luckily for you, damage caused by a live animal is covered under your comprehensive coverage. As long as there’s some evidence that rodents or other animals called your undercarriage home, this should be enough to file a claim.

There are other instances where your comprehensive coverage will pay for breakdowns that occur while the car is parked.

For example, if an object falls onto your vehicle and the damage leads to a breakdown, comprehensive will pay.

Here are some other examples of claims covered by comprehensive:

  • Your vehicle floods after a flash flood in the area and the engine won’t start
  • A wildfire reaches your property and your vehicle catches fire
  • Your AC pump bursts and the fluids cause your engine to catch fire
  • Your vehicle explodes
  • A large object falls off of the truck in front of you and lands on the hood of your car
  • A deer is sitting frozen in the middle of the road and you can’t stop before hitting it
  • Your car is vandalized by an enemy when they pour sugar in your gas tank

Do you have to pay for your loss?

If you have a loss that’s covered under your policy, you may still have to pay for a portion of the repairs.

You have to choose a deductible for physical damage coverage options on your policy, which could range between $50 and $2000.

If your deductible is too high, you may wind up paying for the whole cost of repairs.

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Can you buy emergency protection with your auto insurance?

It’s never safe to be stranded on the side of the road. For your protection, it’s best that you elect to carry emergency roadside assistance.

This coverage helps you pay for towing, tire changes, and other emergency services so that you’re not stuck away from home without transportation.

Policyholders who would like to add emergency roadside assistance to their insurance should contact their agent for a quote.

If you feel like you should look for a better deal, start to quote the cost of insurance through other competitors. Use an online rate quote tool and get dozens of quotes in just a couple minutes.

Try our FREE online quote tool and start comparison shopping today for better rates and more coverage! Enter your ZIP code below!