Can Your Insurance Take The Heat?
An Independent Agent Explains:
Whether or Not You Have Insurance Coverage for 4 Heat-Related Mishaps
This post is part of a series of insurance blogs on Safeco.com showcasing the expertise of independent insurance agents and aimed at helping you understand important insurance coverages and issues.
Summer is still upon us, and the days feel hotter than ever in many parts of the country. The lingering high temps don’t just raise potential health concerns (please stay hydrated and use sunblock), but can also have an adverse effect on your car and home.
Let’s review a few heat-related mishaps I hope you never experience and whether or not you’re likely to have insurance coverage to help you recover from them.
- My car overheated, damaging the engine.
Coverage check: Unfortunately, I have some bad news – insurance policies do not cover damage from normal wear and tear or damage due to improper maintenance. If your overheated engine needs some TLC from a mechanic, you’ll have to foot the bill yourself. However, if you had the foresight to add roadside assistance to your auto policy, you should have coverage for towing services to at least help you reach a shop.
If things get even worse and the engine catches fire, you may have coverage for some of the resulting damage, including smoke damage. This would be through your comprehensive coverage, if you added it to your policy. It covers incidents such as fire, theft and vandalism.
Prevention: Always keep your engine coolant topped off, and keep an eye on your temperature gauge as you drive.
- My air conditioning unit got struck by lightning.
Coverage check: No need to sweat. Most homeowners policies cover lightning damage. If your carrier includes your central unit under dwelling coverage or your portable unit under personal property coverage for such a peril, you may have coverage for your torched a/c.
Prevention: You, of course, can’t predict when or where lightning will strike. But, keeping the vents and filter on your unit clean will help it operate efficiently.
- My BBQ grill tipped over, burning down my detached garage and causing smoke damage in my home.
Coverage check: You’ve suffered quite a scare, so thank goodness the typical homeowners policy covers damage resulting from fire, both to your home itself and other structures on your property. Your homeowners policy will likely help you rebuild your garage according to your area’s current building codes, as well as address the smoke damage in your home. As for the grill you lost and anything else inside the garage that may be been damaged or destroyed, the personal property coverage on your homeowners policy should help you repair or replace the items.
If a vehicle was in the garage at the time of the fire, your auto policy may address that damage, again, if you added comprehensive coverage to it.
Prevention: Always operate your grill on a flat, nonflammable surface, such as a concrete pad that’s located away from your home. Also keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher in your garage and other areas of your home, and be familiar with how to operate it.
- I had a tire blowout on the freeway, which caused me to sideswipe another vehicle.
Coverage check: There are two parts to this equation: coverage for the other vehicle and coverage for yours. If you have auto insurance, you no doubt have coverage for the former. Most states require you to carry bodily injury liability and property damage liability. This coverage may help with the body work for the vehicle you sideswiped, as well as the chiropractor visits for the people inside it. What it won’t do is repair your own vehicle. You need collision coverage on your auto policy for that. However, if you overlooked this important coverage when you bought your insurance, you may have to pay to repair your car yourself.
Prevention: Keep a pressure gauge in the car and routinely check each tire – at least once a month. Heat can increase your tire pressure. Overinflated tires in contact with hot surfaces at high speeds can result in dangerous blowouts.
If you have questions about whether your home and auto insurance policies can withstand the heat of summer, be sure to check in with your independent insurance agent. We can help you decipher the policy-speak in your insurance documents and give you a clearer picture of your coverage. Never forget that your independent agent is there to help you cure (well, hopefully avoid) those summertime blues.
About Frank Siciliano, WHINS Insurance Agency
Frank Siciliano has been an all-lines agent with the WHINS Insurance team since 2012 and has been in the insurance game for nearly 10 years. WHINS Insurance Agency serves the San Fernando Valley and greater Los Angeles area from its home base in Encino, Calif., with a focus on providing great coverage at a great value, all in a timely and professional manner. Frank is fiercely devoted to his clients. He specializes in auto, home and umbrella insurance but works tirelessly to insure whatever his clients throw at him. He lives in the Faircrest Heights area of Los Angeles with his wife, children, four cats and a fish, and he provides free online insurance quotes at www.whins.com/frank.