My car recently broke down. Upon inspection, a dead cat (not mine
thankfully) was found burrowed around the engine. My car insurance
company's claims department said the damages aren't covered by my
policy. I don't think this is fair since this isn't related to my
negligence, isn't it more like an 'Act of God' or something?
How awful. Motorists don't normally check their engine compartment
for cats or other animals before driving, so we wouldn't categorize
you as negligent in this situation -- but that doesn't mean your
car insurance company will cover the mechanical damage done to your
Whether an auto insurer will approve or deny such a claim
ultimately depends upon the terms of the policy.
You're correct that comprehensive insurance coverage is what
covers physical damage to your vehicle from incidents other than
collision. However, though the coverage name is
comprehensive, the coverage really is not.
normally will address only specific perils that are defined in your
auto insurance policy.
The exact perils vary from one auto insurance provider to the
next, however; generally it includes coverage if your car catches
fire or is vandalized or stolen. It also covers damage from
windstorms, hailstorms and flooding. Some car insurance companies
consider such weather events to be acts of God. They are
unforeseeable and unpreventable.
A cat curling up by your engine compartment for warmth is not an
act of God.
And while comprehensive is what covers your vehicle if you
strike an animal, you didn't strike the cat.
Therefore, unless your policy says it will cover mechanical
issues caused by animals (other than a strike) your auto insurer
can deny your claim because the peril isn't listed on your
You may have heard or read about others who have had similar
damage from an animal in the engine compartment, or say a
rodent chewing through electrical wires
, that was been covered by comprehensive coverage. This would
be due to the terms of that person's policy.
Some auto insurance policies state under the comprehensive that
coverages are "not limited" to the listed items. This leaves
these insurance companies a way to provide coverage for incidents
such as yours if they have decided to do so according to their own
internal claims rules.
I'd recommend you go back to the claims department and get
details on why your claim was denied.
Likely the denial was because the terms of your policy just
didn't cover such a situation. However, it could be that they
found that while there was a cat in the engine compartment, the
reason for the breakdown wasn't directly related to this.
Remember, mechanical breakdown on its own is never covered by a car