Rodent damage and car insurance claims
Squirrels, mice, and rats live in every part of the country. And these rodents also love to turn vehicles into a shelter for the winter. Engine compartments, vehicle interiors, and even mufflers are often deemed ideal nesting spots for pesky pests. In addition to making unpleasant smells, these rodents also tend to chew through important wiring, air filters, oil filters, and even interior panels.
Here’s more on whether your auto insurance pays for the damage caused by animals.
How do rodents damage cars?
Mice, rats, and even squirrels can all enter your car by climbing on the tires and entering through gaps in the wheel wells. From there, the rodents can access the engine compartment and vehicle interior with relative ease. In addition to digging and chewing holes in various materials to access new areas, they also tend to gnaw on wiring. Wiring issues can cause your vehicle to fail to start, to misfire, or to experience such electrical issues as dim headlights or flashing dash lights. Finally, rodents also tend to stash bedding and food — such as acorns or pet food — inside of the ventilation system of the engine. This can lead to overheating, and even fires.
Does insurance cover the repairs?
Basic car insurance policies that only include liability and uninsured driver coverage do not cover rodent damage. Just like damage caused by a natural disaster, rodent damage is an out-of-pocket expense on these policies. If you have comprehensive insurance that covers a wide range of potential problems, the policy most likely covers rodent damage too. This is why lenders and car dealerships require you to carry comprehensive insurance until you've paid off the vehicle. They don't want unexpected incidents — such as rat attacks — to damage the total value of the car.
What works to deter rats and mice?
Keeping mice and rats out of your vehicle in the first place is better than relying on your insurance to pay for the damages. Don't store pet or human food near where you park the vehicle. Avoid eating in your vehicle, and remove all food wrappers or containers promptly so rodents aren't attracted by the odors. Hypersonic deterrents may or may not work, but odor deterrents based on predator urine sprinkled or sprayed around the exterior of the vehicle and the tires work to some degree.
If you're concerned about rodent damage, consider upgrading to comprehensive insurance. It's well worth the cost when compared to paying for extensive electrical repairs for your engine.