Nobody likes to discover what's not covered in their policy while trying to make a claim. Here are some situations in which you think you're covered but your car insurance company might not.
Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, says auto insurance policyholders are often confused about when to add a child who has gotten a driver's license.
"Some insurance companies will not cover drivers that are under the age of 18, unless they are specifically added to your policy," Worters says.
To be on the safe side, she says, contact your car insurance agent to make sure your policy covers a teen driver.
Holly Anderson, spokesperson for State Farm Insurance, says all drivers living in your home should be listed on the car insurance policy.
A teen driver who wrecks the car is still covered even if you failed to add him or her to the policy. But "you could then be subject to an underwriting review and lose your coverage because you didn't report the child as a driver in the household."
Allowing a friend to occasionally borrow your car is allowed under a car insurance policy. If the friend has an accident during one of the rare times when he or she drives your car, you're covered.
But it's a different story if a friend drives your car all the time.
"If you do not reside in the vehicle owner's household and you drive the vehicle with any kind of regularity, in order to be covered, you will need to be listed as a driver on the vehicle owner's policy," Worters says.
If your pet is injured in a car accident you caused, the pet's medical expenses may not be covered. Even though collision coverage pays for repairs to the vehicle, your policy may have an exclusion for damage to personal property - and pets are considered personal property.
But if your pet is injured in a car accident caused by someone else, you could make a third-party claim for its medical bills. When a pet is killed in an accident, you can usually make a claim for the market value of the pet.
Sometimes car insurance customers specifically exclude a family member from their auto insurance policies.
The excluded person may be someone with a DUI conviction for whom insurance coverage is prohibitively expensive. In other cases, the excluded person could be a teenager who hasn't gotten a license yet or who isn't allowed to drive because of the high cost of insuring him or her.
If an excluded driver operates your car and gets in an accident, you - not your car insurance company - will be liable for the damages. There are no loopholes! Once a person is excluded, make sure he doesn't driver your car - not even to pull it into the driveway from the street.
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