Does Auto Insurance Cover Catastrophic Engine Failure?

By John Hewitt

  • Overview

    Does Auto Insurance Cover Catastrophic Engine Failure?
    Auto insurance does not cover catastrophic engine failure. Auto insurance only covers damage or theft-related costs, not those incurred by mechanical failure. The upkeep of an automobile is entirely the responsibility of the owner. Even if a parts failure causes an accident, the auto insurance company will not pay for the cost of the replacement or repair of the part.
  • Significance

    Catastrophic engine failure is one of the worst things that can befall an automobile, in terms of passenger safety and financial damage. If a car that suffers a catastrophic engine failure is involved in an accident, the driver of the car with the failure may prove to be liable for all related damages. The engine failure itself can also cause damage to other car components, and in some cases makes it more economical to buy a new car than attempt repairs.
  • Considerations

    Catastrophic engine failure is highly preventable with proper maintenance. The top cause of such failures is irregular or poor maintenance routines. Properly maintained engines can run without any chance of failure for 300,000 miles or more--but of course, the more wear applied to an engine, the more likely that it is to suffer some kind of failure. Regular oil changes aren't enough to prevent such failure. Often, more extensive (but not necessarily expensive) routines and parts replacements are needed.


  • Prevention/Solution

    Contract a mechanic to look at your engine every 50,000 miles that you drive. In most cases, minor engine wear on various parts can be repaired for under $100. These maintenance operations often result in increases in fuel efficiency and a decrease in the chances of mechanical failures. Demonstrating that you get regular checkups and parts replacements also tends to decrease insurance payments.
  • Warning

    One other common cause of catastrophic engine failure is trouble in the cooling system of the engine. Have a mechanic check your fluid levels and the radiator during regular maintenance checkups to prevent any such problems with the machinery. If you notice strange performance problems, particularly during acceleration, it may indicate an issue with the cooling system. If you see steam or smoke coming from the hood, have the problem checked immediately.
  • Benefits

    Pursuing a program of sensible, regular engine maintenance saves on insurance costs and prevents mechanical issues from damaging the car. Educate yourself on what your insurance actually covers, and you're less likely to end up with problems later. A lack of a regular maintenance record may make it more difficult for you to get as much money as possible in the event that you need to file an insurance claim. The more objective data available about your car, the more accurate insurance assessments can be.
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