Is rodent damage covered by car insurance?

It can be disheartening to find evidence of rodent damage in your car, especially if you are not sure whether the damage is covered by your insurance. The good news is that the rodent damage IS likely covered by car insurance, however, whether you are covered will depend on your exact insurance policy. In this article, we walk through the type of insurance coverage you will need, the cost of rodent damage, and when you should make a claim.

What is the cost of rodent damage?

The cost of rodent damage to a car can range from several $100s to several $1,000s of dollars. Depending on how long rodents have been in your vehicle, they can produce a significant amount of damage, including:

  • Destroying upholstery and causing cosmetic damage
  • Chewing on wires, potentially causing malfunctions in your car’s electronics
  • Producing waste, which can be poisonous to humans

Initially, you may notice droppings or some cosmetic damage in your car, however, the internal damage rodents cause can be far more than superficial. When rodents, mice, or rats get into your car they can cause expensive repairs and present major safety issues!

When is rodent damage covered by car insurance?

Rodent damage is typically covered by comprehensive car insurance policies. In general, a comprehensive policy covers repairs to your car if it is damaged by something other than a collision, such as by rodents, hail, flooding, lightning, and fires. Nearly 80% of drivers do have some form of comprehensive coverage, so the chances are very good that you will be covered for rodent damage. In addition, if your car is financed or leased, you will almost certainly have comprehensive coverage because most lenders require it.

Should you make an insurance claim for rodent damage?

Rodent damage should almost always be repaired, but should you make an insurance claim for the repair? Or should you just pay for the repair yourself? Making an insurance claim for rodent damage WILL go on your insurance record. And unfortunately, adding a claim to your insurance record will typically increase the cost of your car insurance.

It is impossible to know precisely how much an insurance company will raise your rates due to a rodent claim. Unlike other claims, however, one source found that making a comprehensive claim (like a claim for rodent damage) has a very small impact on your insurance rates. While a liability claim may increase the cost of your insurance by hundreds of dollars, a rodent damage claim only raised an average driver’s rates by $6 per month! In fact, in some states such as California and Oklahoma, it is actually illegal for an insurance company to raise your rates after you make this type of claim.

Since your rates will only raise slightly, in the majority of cases, it does make sense to make a claim for rodent damage. However, you should still consider how extensive the damage to your car is and the size of your deductible. A deductible is the amount that you will need to pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. Below we lay out an example of how a $1k deductible works when rodents cause $4k in damage compared to when they cause $500 in damage.

diagram of rodent damage covered by car insurance

One of the only times you should NOT make a claim is if the cost of repairing rodent damage is less than your deductible. If you make a claim below your deductible, you won’t receive any payment from your insurance company and your rates might go up!

How does the claim process work for rodent damage?

Immediately upon noticing extensive damage from rodents you should call your insurance company and file a claim. Every insurer’s claim process is different, but if you give your insurance company a call they will walk you through the steps to formally file a claim.

Typically after filing a claim, you will then need to work with an insurance adjuster (provided by your insurer) and an independent body shop to get a repair estimate. Most likely the body shop will then proceed with the repair, fixing the damage that the rodents caused. Although rodent damage is typically less expensive than other types of damage, occasionally the adjuster will determine that your car is totaled. If this happens, your insurance company will give you a check for the cash value of your car, which you can use to purchase a new vehicle.

How should you prevent rodent damage to your car?

It may be too late to prevent damage to your car this time, but in the future there are several strategies you can take advantage of to avoid rodent damage:

  • Drive often: rodents cause the most damage when they begin nesting and living in your car. By driving your car regularly you will make sure that rodents are not making themselves comfortable in your vehicle.
  • Remove any food: rodents are attracted to food, so having any leftover food in your car (even small bits) is like a magnet for rodents. Make sure to remove any food promptly and you will keep rodents away!
  • Cover openings: any openings to your car’s interior or wiring give rodents a chance to get into your car and cause damage. Any time you notice an opening you should immediately work with a body shop to seal any holes.
  • Use deterrents: depending on your type of car, something like rodent deterrent tape or other countermeasures may be a good idea. They won’t be appropriate for every vehicle but could be a great option.
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