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Will car insurance cover engine failure?

A problem with the engine of a car might mean that it needs to be repaired or replaced, which can lead to a very hefty repair bill. But the question is, do you have to find the money for this yourself, or will car insurance cover engine failure? Read on to find out more.

The cause of engine failure

Whether or not a car insurance policy will cover the cost of a replacement engine, or to repair the existing one, depends very much on the cause of the engine failure. Has the engine failed because of an accident or fire damage, or is it simply down to wear and tear?

What also matters is the type of insurance cover you have. Comprehensive; third party, fire and theft; and third party only policies provide motorists with different levels of cover, so whether you may have a claim will also depend on which kind of car insurance policy you hold.

Car insurance types and engine failure

Third party only

A third party policy will never cover the failure of your engine. It might, in certain circumstances, cover the other driver’s, such as if you cause a collision that leads to the failure of their engine. Your vehicle is not covered by this type of insurance, so you could not claim for the failure of your own car’s engine. 

Third party, fire and theft

Third party, fire and theft policies would only cover engine failure if it was caused by fire, as third party cover does not cover your car, and it being stolen is unlikely to be something that would lead to engine failure.

Fully comprehensive

You might be able to claim for engine failure if you hold a fully comprehensive car insurance policy, but it depends on the cause. If the engine fails because of general wear and tear - such as with an older car - then you would not have any grounds to make a claim on your insurance as this is not covered. If the engine failed as a direct result of a collision, or because of fire damage, then you may be able to claim for the cost of repairing or replacing the engine.

Proving the cause

Assuming you hold fully comprehensive insurance cover and your engine failed after your car was involved in a crash, would the insurer pay out?

The answer might depend on whether you can prove that the engine failed because of the impact, rather than due to everyday wear and tear such as corrosion.

If the engine failed immediately after an accident, then it might seem that the cause is clear. Your car insurance company, however, may disagree. If this occurs, the body that deal with such disputes is the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

What the FOS says

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) often sees dispuFtes regarding the cause of damage to a car, especially in cases that involve a collision. Customers and insurance companies tend to disagree on how much of the damage was caused by an accident.

If engine failure, for example, was caused by a crash, then it would be the responsibility of the insurer. However, if some of the damage is caused by wear and tear, the decision will depend very much on the available evidence.

When the FOS examines such complaints, it must decide what is the most likely cause of the damage. It will look at the facts of each individual case to determine exactly what the insurer’s liability is. The terms and conditions of the policy will be checked very thoroughly to establish this.

Often, the FOS must point out to the customer that their insurer is obliged only to put them where they would be had the accident not occurred. In practice, this can mean the insurer does not have to return the car to the customer in a better state than it was before the collision.

Other related FAQs

Looking for more related content to this? We’ve picked a selection of related topics that you may find helpful

If you have a fully comprehensive policy, you’ll generally find that insurers will pay out for severe weather damage like that caused by hail. Be warned though, not all do – so if you’re concerned, it’s important to check your policy for any exclusions.

In short, if you have comprehensive car insurance, it will pay for repairs under certain conditions.

Most comprehensive car insurance policies will cover repair for damage caused by potholes on public roads. Alternatively, you can claim directly from the authority responsible for the road.

If you’re involved in a hit and run accident, some car insurance policies will cover the cost of repairing your car, or pay you the current market price if it’s written-off.

Since car insurance policies are designed to put things right after an accident, most standard cover doesn’t protect against non-motoring criminal acts like vandalism. That said, many insurers can add vandalism cover to your policy if you’re worried about deliberate damage.

Comprehensive car insurance - often referred to as fully comprehensive (or ‘fully comp’) – includes cover for damage to your own car, whereas third party, fire and theft policies only cover damage to someone else’s vehicle and not your own.

If your car insurance covers windscreen damage, it will probably also include cover for all other broken car windows, and some policies extend cover to glass sunroofs.

As long as you have fully comprehensive cover with no exclusions relating to flood or water damage, you should find that your car insurance covers water damage. Be warned though, if the damage was avoidable (if you drove into a large puddle for instance) you might find your insurer won’t payout.

Depending on the type of car insurance you have in place, it’s likely your policy will provide cover for theft.

If the cause of water damage to your car is not your fault, a comprehensive insurance policy will provide cover, but a third party insurance policy is limited and does not normally include water damage.