18 Things That Are Not Covered by Auto Insurance

secure Editorial Standards

SmartFinancial Offers Unbiased, Fact-based Information. Our fact-checked articles are intended to educate insurance shoppers so they can make the right buying decisions. Learn More

Your auto policy will contain several exclusions, which means your insurer will not reimburse for losses caused by a listed exclusion. Filing a claim for an excluded loss will result in a denial and you will need to pay for those costs out-of-pocket. For additional coverage, you can look into policy endorsements, like roadside assistance, gap insurance and modified parts coverage.

Keep reading to learn 18 things your auto insurance will not cover.

1. Personal Property Inside Your Vehicle

Comprehensive coverage will cover your car, if stolen, but not any personal items left inside, such as electronics, sunglasses or other valuables. However, you can still file a claim under your homeowner's insurance or renters insurance policy to see if they will cover this loss.

2. Routine Repairs & Maintenance

Routine repair and general maintenance costs, like changing your oil and rotating your tires, will not be covered under car insurance. These are general expenses associated with car ownership that you will pay out-of-pocket.

Modifications and upgrades to your car may not be covered by auto insurance if they are damaged in an accident.

3. Intentional Damages

Damages intentionally caused to your vehicle or another driver’s property will not be covered in an auto policy. Premeditating a car accident to profit from an insurance claim payout can be considered fraud and your insurer will likely cancel your policy. This can create a lapse in coverage and you may face legal and financial consequences.

4. Excluded Drivers in Your Policy

Drivers specifically excluded in your policy will not be covered if they get into an accident while driving your car. Insurers typically exclude individuals when they have a high-risk history. For example, a company may insure all family members on a single policy except the son with two DUI violations within the same year.

Keep in mind that drivers (not excluded in your policy) who drive your car with your permission may still be covered if your policy has a permissive use clause.

5. Losses That Exceed Your Policy Limits

Car insurance will pay only up to the limits you purchase. If you purchased $25,000 in liability insurance but and you’re liable for $30,000 in losses after a car accident, then you will be responsible for the remaining $5,000. Increasing your coverage limits will increase the cost of car insurance.

Another option is purchasing an umbrella policy. Umbrella policies will cover losses that exceed your auto policy limits. The advantage of purchasing an umbrella policy over increasing your policy limits is that a single umbrella policy can cover excess losses for both your home and car insurance policy. You may, however, be required to raise your car insurance limits first, depending on your insurer.

6. Mechanical Breakdowns

A typical auto insurance policy won’t cover mechanical issues unless they were caused by a covered peril. For example, say your car strikes a tree, causing your engine to stop running. If you purchased collision coverage, then your insurer may cover the cost of repairing your engine.

With mechanical breakdown insurance, you’re covered for the cost of repairs if your vehicle experiences a breakdown and requires replacement parts. Unlike collision coverage, mechanical breakdown coverage insures you against general failures — even if caused by wear and tear. This coverage will increase your auto insurance premium but can provide some peace of mind if your car is prone to breaking down.

7. Commercial Use

Personal use of your car is covered under auto insurance but not for commercial use. For example, say you own a general contracting business and use your car for personal and business use. Your personal auto policy will cover you for driving to the grocery store and the park, but not for transporting building materials, driving to client locations and other commercial activity.

Purchasing commercial auto insurance alongside personal auto insurance will help ensure your car is insured whenever you’re driving.

8. Rental Car Reimbursement

If your car is undergoing repairs after a covered accident or you’re shopping for a new car because your car was totaled, you may need to rent a car in the meantime. Auto insurance will not cover the cost of a rental car unless you purchase rental car reimbursement. Rental car reimbursement will pay for your rental car expenses up to the policy limit for a certain number of days.

Comprehensive coverage will cover your car, if stolen, but not any personal items left inside, such as electronics, sunglasses or other valuables.

9. Pet Injuries

Your pet’s injuries may be covered if you have collision coverage but it can vary by company. Ask your insurance agent if pet injury costs, like emergency and veterinarian bills, will be covered. Otherwise, you may want to shop around with a different insurance provider or purchase pet insurance.

10. Driving an Unlisted Car

Your auto insurance policy will only cover the cars listed in your policy. If you did not add your new car to your auto policy because you honestly forgot or intentionally refrained to avoid a higher premium, then that car will not be covered for any losses.

If you’re driving another person’s insured vehicle with their permission, then you are typically covered under the other driver’s permissive use clause in their auto policy. Claims should be filed with their auto insurance company.

11. Added Accessories

Modifications and upgrades to your car may not be covered by auto insurance if they are damaged in an accident. If you want coverage for your car modifications, ask your insurance agent about supplemental coverage or custom parts and equipment insurance. If your car is damaged in a covered accident, this coverage can pay for the value of aftermarket and custom parts to your vehicle.

Get the Best Car Insurance Coverage

12. Rideshare & Delivery

Driving for a rideshare company, like Uber and Lyft, can be useful for generating income but any losses incurred while transporting passengers or delivering orders will not be covered by your auto policy. This is considered commercial activity, which is an excluded coverage in personal auto insurance.

Fortunately, Uber and Lyft provide some coverage for their drivers while the app is activated. However, this coverage is usually only liability insurance, so you may want to research rideshare insurance if you want more complete coverage while driving around.

13. Racing

Accidents that occur while racing or performing stunts are excluded from coverage in auto insurance. Since racing is a high-risk event, you should look into motorsport event insurance to ensure you have coverage.

14. Some Natural Disasters

Auto insurance policies often include act-of-god exclusions that will omit coverage for unpredictable events, like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other natural calamities. However, some weather-related damages, like hail, may be covered if you have comprehensive insurance. Ask your insurance agent exactly which weather-related events your comprehensive protection will cover to avoid surprise claim denials down the road.

15. Off-Roading

Auto insurance may cover some types of off-roading but it will depend on your company. Since auto insurance coverage can be situational, you should consult your insurance agent if you regularly use your personal car for off-roading excursions.  If you have roadside assistance, the cost to extract your vehicle if stuck near a main road is usually covered.

A typical auto insurance policy won’t cover mechanical issues unless they were caused by a covered peril.

However, accidents that occur as a result of high-risk driving specific to off-roading may not be covered. For example, a single-car rollover accident that occurred while racing through large dunes will likely be excluded from coverage.

16. Towing And Jumpstarts

Towing services and jumpstarts will not be covered with standard auto insurance but you can add this coverage by purchasing roadside assistance. On top of tows and jumpstarts, roadside assistance may also cover winching, locksmith and fuel delivery services.

Purchasing roadside assistance as a policy endorsement can start as low as $8 per year. Standalone roadside plans that require an annual membership, like AAA, can include other benefits but usually at a considerably higher cost.

17. Punitive Damages

If you are sued by the victim party in an accident you caused, the liability portion in your auto policy will cover the victim party’s losses and your legal expenses. However, this coverage may not extend to punitive damages, which is additional compensation on top of the cost of the victim’s losses — usually incurred for especially heinous crimes.

For example, a judge may require you to pay for the other driver’s car repairs and medical bills but may also require you to pay additional compensation in punitive damages because you were driving while intoxicated and caused severe injury to the other driver.

18. Remaining Balance On Your Car Loan

If your car is totaled in a covered accident, auto insurance will typically pay you your car’s value after depreciation, up to the policy limits. If your car’s worth is less than the outstanding balance on your car’s loan, auto insurance will not cover the difference. That means you would still be making loan payments on a car you can no longer drive.

Only gap insurance, an auto policy endorsement, will pay the difference between your auto policy’s limits and the remaining balance on your car loan.

Your personal auto policy will not cover you for transporting building materials, driving to client locations and other commercial activity.


What does car insurance not cover?

Auto insurance typically will not cover excluded drivers, unlisted cars, stolen personal belongings, intentional damages to your or another driver's vehicle, routine repairs and maintenance and more. Check your auto policy or consult your insurance agent for a list of excluded losses.

What doesn’t liability cover?

Liability coverage will not cover damages to your car, injuries that you or your passengers sustain in an accident and expenses that exceed your policy limit. Collision insurance covers your property damages, while medical payments coverage or personal injury protection pays for your medical expenses.

What type of car insurance covers damage to your vehicle?

Collision coverage will pay for damages to your vehicle, even if you are responsible for causing an accident. This coverage will also pay for single-car accidents, like driving into a tree or a car rollover.

Does insurance cover a stolen pink slip?

If somebody breaks into your car and steals your pink slip, or car registration, then comprehensive insurance can pay for damages caused during the break-in. However, you will need to purchase identity theft protection for losses related to the offender using your personal information at your expense.

Key Takeaways

  • Standard auto insurance may not cover you for multiple things, such as excluded drivers in your auto policy, stolen personal items, driving your car for commercial use and the remaining balance on your car loan if it is totaled.
  • Purchasing auto insurance riders or endorsements, like roadside assistance and gap insurance, can offer coverage otherwise excluded in a standard policy.
  • Consult your insurance agent if you have any questions about coverage in specific scenarios.

Find car insurance at the cheapest price. Comparing car insurance rates from multiple insurance companies is the best way to find the lowest price, and SmartFinancial makes it easy to do. Based on your answers to a few questions, our FREE online tool analyzes insurance companies in your area to match you with the best policy. Just enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291 to receive your free car insurance quotes.

Get a Free Auto Insurance Quote Online Now.