Car Insurance Exclusions

What isn't covered by your car insurance?
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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Renata Balasco

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Renata joined The Zebra in 2020 as a Customer Experience Agent. Since 2021, she has worked as licensed insurance professional and content strategist.…

Car insurance exclusions

Car insurance exclusions are the instances where your car insurance policy will not provide coverage. These exclusions are typically listed in your policy and may vary depending on what level of coverage that you carry. However, there are many exclusions that are simply never covered—even by some of the best auto insurance companies

The last thing you want is to find out something isn’t covered. Along with knowing the limits of your coverage, it’s important to know which behaviors can lead to your policy being dropped or voided. This knowledge can help you avoid a situation in which you are deemed personally liable for damages. Every insurance company is different, but here are some of the common car insurance exclusions you can expect to see. 

Liability exclusions:

Your liability coverage never pays you. By definition, liability coverage pays others for damages that are caused by you. As such, if you only carry liability insurance, you and your vehicle will not be covered in the event of an accident.

Hitting your own car

Should you cause damage to your own car, your liability insurance is under no obligation to cover it. In this instance, you would need collision or comprehensive coverage.

steering wheel
Delivery driving

If you deliver pizzas on weekends with your own car, there’s a good chance your personal auto insurance policy won’t cover you. This is because you are using your car for business purposes. As such, to be covered in the event of an accident while making deliveries, you would need to obtain insurance through your employer or switch to a commercial auto policy for delivery drivers

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Driving for a rideshare company

If you drive for a company such as Lyft or Uber without the proper rideshare insurance, you run the risk of voiding your coverage. These companies both offer limited insurance during portions of the ride, but there are gaps in this coverage that could lead to problems should you have an accident. Many car insurance companies offer an endorsement that allows you.

Medical payments exclusions

Medical payments coverage covers death and bodily injury of those in your vehicle. Just as with liability coverage, there are certain exclusions that apply to medical payments. In most cases, the same exclusions will apply to MedPay as liability. In addition to these, the following are also excluded by MedPay.

  • Injury to an employee: If you have an employee who is injured while working, losses should be covered under worker’s compensation and not your personal auto insurance policy.
  • Vehicle being used as a residence: An insurance company can deny coverage on a claim relating to any vehicle being used as a residence.

Damage to your vehicle

Your insurance won’t cover certain damages to your vehicle, even if you carry collision and comprehensive coverage. These coverages can come in handy if you have been in an accident or if your car sustained damage due to a covered peril.

Some of the damages your insurance won’t cover: 

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Tire wear
  • Damage resulting from prearranged racing
  • Broken glass
  • Mechanical failure
  • Non-permanent electronics
  • Any intentional damage

Keep in mind: while you can usually purchase liability coverage for a salvaged or rebuilt vehicle, some companies may not allow you to purchase collision and comprehensive insurance. 


Other types of exclusions

The following are further situations where your car insurance isn't likely to provide coverage.

If your car is confiscated or repossessed by the government, losses or damages are not covered by insurance. 

If you have an accident while engaged in illegal activity, you may not be covered by your insurance policy.

If you want to customize your vehicle, it’s important to let your insurance company know about it. Your insurance company assesses your vehicle with the assumption that it has standard equipment. Therefore, any modifications that you make would not be covered under a typical policy.

People make modifications for a variety of reasons ⁠— including aesthetic, performance, and mobility purposes ⁠— but all must be properly insured in order to be covered. Most insurance companies will cover such equipment for a specified amount. 

However, keep in mind that modifications will likely increase your insurance premiums. In some cases, you may find that your insurance company is unwilling to cover certain modifications. This could even lead some companies to drop your coverage altogether. 

Any of your personal possessions damaged in an accident are, unfortunately, not likely to be covered. However, you may find that a homeowners or renters policy could provide coverage for possessions.

Death, injury, or damage sustained by nuclear accidents, war, or other catastrophic events are not covered by car insurance.

The named driver exclusion removes particular drivers from your policy, meaning they will not be covered under the policy. Normally, your policy works under a permissive use basis, meaning that if you loan your vehicle to someone, they are covered by your insurance in the event of an accident. 

However, if a driver is specifically excluded from your policy, insurance coverage no longer applies. There are a number of reasons that you might elect to exclude a driver. First and foremost, if that driver has a poor driving record or offenses — such as DUIs — excluding them could save you money on your premium. 

Most insurance policies sold by American insurance companies are valid only in the United States. Crossing into another country could void your coverage. However, it is often possible to add coverage that extends to countries such as Canada and Mexico. It is very important that you check with your insurance provider first.

As your car depreciates, you can wind up owing more on your vehicle than it is currently worth. Even with full coverage, if your vehicle is a total loss, your insurance may only cover the current worth, leaving you on the hook for the difference. Gap insurance could be added to help make up the difference. 

Commonly excluded vehicles

There are certain vehicles that are not likely to be covered by a standard insurance policy: 

  • Vehicles with fewer than four wheels:
  • Off-road vehicles
  • Vehicles whose primary use is for racing
  • Business vehicles (commercial auto coverage is required)

How to cover your business vehicles

If you use your car for business purposes, a personal auto insurance policy won't provide sufficient coverage. While some carriers may provide an endorsement to your personal policy for business use, it's more likely that you will need a commercial auto policy to ensure that you are adequately covered. 

Get started by receiving a commercial auto insurance quote from our trusted partner, Progressive.

When could an auto insurance claim be denied?

It can be stressful to worry about whether or not your claim will be approved after an accident. Below are some reasons a car insurance claim could be denied: 

  • Non-paid premium
  • You didn’t file the claim in time
  • You exceeded the limits of your policy (in this case you would be responsible for the differences)

How to stay covered

The best way to make sure you are fully covered is by reading your car insurance policy very carefully. Any further questions should be directed to your insurance company. For general questions, you can always ask The Zebra's insurance experts. We can help you find the perfect policy for you. 

Compare insurance rates quickly and easily.

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About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.