7 things not covered by comprehensive car insurance

By Olivia Gee ·

Car insurance can be complicated. Whether you choose a comprehensive car insurance policy or third party property cover, there are a raft of inclusions, exclusions and optional extras to consider, as well as specific circumstances which may invalidate a claim.

The best way to avoid a car insurance claim rejection is to read through your policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) carefully so you have a good understanding of your coverage and its limits. 

However, you can fast-track this research process by knowing what’s generally not covered by most Australian car insurance providers. 

Here are seven comprehensive car insurance coverage questions to ask before you make a claim.

1. Does car insurance cover general wear, tear and tyre damage?

This refers to all those little scratches, stains and mechanical issues which crop up, and unfortunately these things aren't covered by car insurance. Regular maintenance can help address problems as they arise, which should hopefully allow for a cheaper and more efficient route to fixing issues instead of organising emergent repairs.

A big element to remember is that tyre damage, including punctures and worn-down tread, isn’t covered by car insurance. So, you’ll need to keep an eye on tyre condition and replace the set if tread falls below 1.5mm (the legal requirement set out in the 1989 Motor Vehicles Standards Act).

Time is a cruel master. Depreciation is not covered by car insurance and your car will likely decrease in value the longer you use it. This is especially relevant if you’ve set an agreed value on your vehicle – you may want to update the value at renewal time.

If you’re not doing your due diligence in these matters and your car is deemed unroadworthy, then you can bet your insurer won’t cover you if you continue driving.

2. Does car insurance cover mechanical or electrical breakdowns?

This could be a problem in that “uh oh” moment when the hood starts spewing smoke while you’re driving, or if a million revs just won’t get the engine started. 

While comprehensive car insurance covers a lot of accidental events or natural disasters, most policies don’t insure breakdowns related to mechanical, electrical or structural faults in the car.

If you’ve got a newer car and it’s within a warranty period, these issues may be covered under by the seller or manufacturer. Or, if you’ve elected to include roadside assistance in your policy, some smaller mechanical issues can be addressed under this cover at the time of the breakdown.

3. Does car insurance cover you if your driving under the influence of alcohol?

Since driving while intoxicated is illegal, you might have guessed your insurer won’t cover you for any incidents which occur while you’re under the influence. 

If you have your full licence you are allowed to drive with a blood alcohol percentage up to the legal limit. However, you should check with your provider if this may affect your ability to make an insurance claim.

It’s important to also look out for anything related to prescription medication in your policy, especially if you’re taking a course of drugs which you need to declare to remain a licenced driver.

4. Does car insurance cover an overloaded car?

Again, this one might feel obvious – only carry as many passengers as there are seats and seat belts – but there’s more to it.

Your car insurance will be voided if you’ve loaded your car to a point where it’s heavier than the legal limit, or if the items aren’t secured properly. Same goes for anything you’re towing behind the vehicle.

Check your state or territory’s guide for the limits for various vehicle types, and the manufacturer’s specifications to find out how much your vehicle can safely tow,

5. Does car insurance cover repossessed or legally confiscated cars?

Is your ride in the impound lot after one-too-many speeding fines? Or has it been officially repossessed because you defaulted on your car insurance loan?

Unfortunately, your comprehensive insurance policy can’t help you out of either of these pickles.

6. Does car insurance cover unlicensed drivers or unregistered vehicles?

If you don’t have a current driver’s licence or your car’s rego has run out, don’t expect your car insurance to cover you while driving. 

It’s easy to forget these long-term registrations, so make sure you set reminders and keep on top of your paperwork for both.

7. Does car insurance cover you if you haven't paid your premium? 

If you want a pay-out, you need to pay your premium. Insurance companies are required to provide at least 14 days noticed before your policy period ends so you can renew it. 

Many providers will give you a heads-up well before this and there are often options to set up automatic renewal. So, hopefully you won’t forget to pay your premium, as any claim made under a lapsed policy won’t be valid.

Make sure you can stay on top of your car insurance costs by comparing and choosing the best value policy to suit your needs. You can start with some of the comprehensive options below.

Compare car insurance - last updated November 30, 2020

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    *Any information provided on this page should be considered a summary and general advice only. All information should be verified before purchase via the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).

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    Olivia Gee
    Money writer

    As one of Mozo’s money writers, Olivia Gee shares her research and insights across banking, insurance and property to help readers save. She loves getting stuck into a story, unveiling all the facts, breaking down stats and drawing on personal experiences - this is what drives her as a journalist. She has a double degree from the University of Wollongong, with a BA in Journalism as well as Media and Communications.