Is Vehicle Damage From Rodents Covered by Personal Auto Insurance?

Many people get auto insurance for protection against collision losses. What many drivers don’t know is that a policy written for collision doesn’t necessarily cover damage from animals and other non-collision incidents, such as vandalism, earthquakes, floods and even objects falling from space. For those, you need comprehensive coverage, or “other-than-collision” insurance.

Rodent damage typically falls under comprehensive coverage and includes things like chewed wires, nests under the hood, broken glass and dents from falling objects.

Rodents Love Seldom-driven Cars

Rodent damage is more common in cars that are stored or parked for long periods of time. The area under the hood of a car is dark and insulated, making it an ideal hiding spot for rodents and pests looking to escape from cold or wet weather, especially during the winter months.

Rodents often crawl under the hood of a car for shelter and can even build a nest there. They can also get into air filters, which can spread germs throughout the car. According to personal finance website The Balance, some mechanics have reported finding over 25 pounds of dog food and hair inside of an engine where a rodent built a nest!

Cars parked in garages may also sit near pet food, garbage cans or garage food storage, making the area even more attractive to rodents and other pests. Additionally, in recent years, some car manufacturers have switched to using more eco-friendly soy-based wire casings that rodents may be drawn to.

If you are going to leave your car parked on the street or garaged for weeks or months while you travel, make prevention part of your plans. You should consider having someone drive your car every few days to prevent nesting under your hood, and you should definitely make sure your windows are closed, your doors are locked, and your interior is free of any attractions, such as food.

Important Exclusions Regarding Rodent Damage

Car insurance policies do exclude some kinds of non-collision events, even if you purchase comprehensive coverage. These exclusions vary from policy to policy, but there is one common thread: If your neglect led to the damage, it likely won’t be covered.

For example, if your garage is infested with mice and you take no action to remove them, you cannot expect your insurer to help you out if the mice chew your wires or destroy your interior.

Comprehensive coverage is also not likely to cover things like damaged personal property left in your vehicle — for example, if a rodent were to get inside a car and chew up electronics or damage other personal items.

This coverage does not insure for the cost of cleaning services if a rodent leaves a mess in the car or rodent retrieval if an animal gets stuck inside a part of the car and requires a professional to remove it. Additionally, homeowners insurance does not cover cars at all, even if the damage occurs when a car is parked within a home’s garage or on insured premises.

If your vehicle is damaged while at a repair shop or another custodial facility, such as a hotel parking garage, your first line of recourse would be that organization. In many cases, these businesses have a commercial liability insurance policy that will help pay for damage to customers’ vehicles that occurs while in the business’s care.

As a good practice, get in the habit of snapping photos of your vehicle when you arrive at the facility and email or text them to yourself right away. That will provide you with photographic, time-stamped evidence of the condition of your vehicle when you placed it in the custody and care of the business. Should it be damaged while on that property, especially by rodents, you can supply your photos as support for your claim to the loss manager at that business. It’s a bit of a pain but a good habit to get into.

Other Reasons to get Comprehensive Coverage

Some leases or car loans require comprehensive insurance so the owner or lender is insured against big losses for which no one is liable. Comprehensive coverage also will respond if your car is damaged by a tree, a hit-and-run driver or even a bear.

You can usually set your deductible for other-than-collision coverage in the $500 to $1,000 range. Since preventive action is much less expensive than your deductible, however, it is a great idea to keep your garage vermin-free and move your vehicle regularly to minimize the chances of nesting. By keeping your vehicle clear of shrubbery and brush growth and cleaning out food and trash daily, you can minimize your chances of pest damage.

6 Tips to Protect Your Car from Rodent Damage

Here’s how to reduce the risks of unwanted critters taking up residence in your car:

  1. Avoid parking in rodent prone areas (tall grass, woody areas, bushes, dirty alleys)
  2. Remove food from surrounding areas (pet food, bird seed, garbage)
  3. Wrap wires in rodent deterrent tape (treated with capsaicin from hot peppers)
  4. Sprinkle cedar shavings, sawdust, or mulch around your vehicle
  5. Use ultrasound alarms and strobe lights to disturb rodents
  6. Treat car with rodent repellent smells (peppermint oil, cloves, cayenne pepper)



Reposted with permission from original author.  Applied Systems Inc.