Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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UPDATED: Sep 23, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • The basic auto insurance policy that’s required under state law doesn’t provide coverage for damage caused by vermin
  • If you have physical damage coverage on your policy, there’s a strong chance that damage caused by rodents will be covered under your policy
  • Comprehensive coverage, one form of physical damage cover, pays for a wide variety of the losses that typically happen when a vehicle is parked or in storage
  • Some of the perils covered under comprehensive include collision with a live animal and damage caused by animals
  • Your comprehensive deductible will be deducted from your claims settlement
  • Your policy will only pay up to your vehicle’s Actual Cash Value to make repairs to damage caused by rodents
  • If the repairs for damage cost more than the vehicle’s value, the car will be a total loss

No one ever wants to wake up in the morning to a vehicle that won’t start. While you might initially assume it’s a battery issue, it can be even more frustrating to learn that a jumble of wires located under your hood have been chewed by those rodents you haven’t been able to evict from your property for months. When the mechanic gives you all of the dirty details, it leaves you wondering how you can bill these vermin to pay for the damage that they caused. Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

You might not be able to collect money from the guilty party to pay for damages but there’s a chance that you’ll be able to collect money from your insurer to help out.

Auto insurance was initially designed to help protect you from third-party claimants. While all basic policies contain some third-party liability coverage, more comprehensive policies also provide coverage for damage to the covered vehicle under covered circumstances. These circumstances include encounters with live animals.

Most incidents involving animal damage such as rodents chewing on wires are covered by comprehensive coverage, but not every policy has this type of coverage. As long as you have comprehensive coverage and have paid your deductible, your provider will help you pay for the cost of repair or replace damage done to your car by these animals.

Comprehensive insurance pays for damages to your vehicle from any cause other than a car accident. However, you should still speak with a representative to check if rodent damage is covered under your comprehensive policy. Some auto policies don’t cover rodents eating car wiring, that’s why it’s important to check beforehand to make sure you’re covered.

What does a basic auto insurance policy cover?

If you only purchased auto insurance to satisfy the compulsory auto insurance laws in your state, you have what’s called a basic auto insurance policy in the industry. A basic policy provides you with coverage that’s specifically designed to protect you against claims made against you and not by you. Here’s a breakdown of basic auto insurance coverage options:

  • Bodily Injury (BI): Bodily Injury is third-party coverage that will pay for injury claims that are made against you. In a majority of states, the minimum amount of BI coverage that you must carry is set by state officials. You also have the option to carry higher limits for added premiums.
  • Property Damage (PD): Property Damage is the second half of third-party coverage that completes the duo. PD pays for damage claims that are made against you when you are responsible for damage to someone else’s car or another type of real property. Limits that you select for PD are on a per accident basis.

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How to protect your own car?

Your insurance company will only pay for claims that you present for damage to your own car when you carry physical damage coverage. If you don’t have optional physical damage coverage, you can’t file any claims for damage to your wires or mechanical components caused by rodents.

What type of physical damage coverage is available?

Just like there is a duo of coverage options that make up liability, there is also a duo of coverage options that make up physical damage. Physical damage consists of comprehensive and collision coverage, which each provide protection to the covered auto for a different list of losses. While you cannot carry collision without comprehensive, it’s possible to have a policy with comprehensive only when you aren’t concerned with all types of losses.

What does comprehensive cover?

If you’re buying physical damage coverage just to ensure that you’re safeguarded against the pesky little rats and mice that call your warm car’s front-end home during the cool winter months, you’ll need comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive is called ‘Other Than Collision’ or OTC coverage in the industry. The reason for these nicknames is because it pays for several different types of perils that don’t involve colliding with another object. Some of the different causes of damage covered under comprehensive include:

  • Glass damage to windshields, door glass, back glass and even sunroofs
  • Hail damage caused to paint and body
  • Fire damage caused by mechanical mishaps or from arson
  • Vehicle theft and vandalism
  • Other weather-related causes
  • Flood damage caused by storms, dam breaks or even a busted fire hydrant
  • Falling objects while your vehicle is parked or while you’re driving
  • Encounter with a live animal

You may need to provide photos of the damage to your insurer as part of the insurance claims process. But even if your provider covers rodent damage, it’s a good idea to take preventative measures to avoid such damage. To reduce the risk of rodents eating your car’s wires, you should be careful where you park (park indoors if possible), keep your vehicle clean and drive it frequently.

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What does ‘encounter with live animal mean’?

Auto insurance contracts are generally very specific. That is why it’s only natural to wonder what it means to have an ‘encounter with a live animal’. After all, there’s a number of ways you can encounter an animal inside and outside of your car. If you read through your Personal Auto Policy booklet, it may not provide a much more detailed explanation. This is when you need to contact your insurance agent or the claims department to find out how rodent damage is handled by the company.

In most cases, an encounter with a live animal is a nice way of saying that you’ve impacted a live animal while operating your car.

While many assume this impact falls under collision coverage, as long as the animal is living at the time of the loss it’s consider comprehensive. This is because of the unpredictable nature of animals that are ‘caught in headlights’. If you were to strike a live rodent and it somehow affect your wheel or alignment, this would be covered under comprehensive. Any other type of contact with an animal carcass falls under collision.

How is damage covered while my vehicle is parked?

It’s more common for a rodent family to chew their way through your engine wires and belts than it is for you to hit them as they cross the road. In this scenario, the damage caused by the rodent family would still be covered under comprehensive as long as there are signs that rodents had been under your hood. It’s important to be able to prove that the damage wasn’t wear and tear and that it was specifically the work of a rodent’s nibbling or you may have trouble filing your claim.

Whenever you file a damage claim the company will look at the value of your car. As long as the damage costs less to repair that your car is worth your car won’t be totaled. If you’ve filed a damage claim and you’re not happy with how it was handled, it might be time to shop elsewhere. Look into the cost of insurance elsewhere and then make a switch. For a quicker shopping experience, you can use an online rate comparison tool and price dozens of policies at once with very little effort. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to compare car insurance rates now!