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Woman's car burns in fire, insurance won't pay a dime

The situation exposes the risks of carrying just state minimum insurance
Posted at 4:00 AM, Sep 28, 2022

Drivers know that anything can happen on the road, which is why there's auto insurance. But some insurance policies won't cover everything when needed, especially if for drivers who opt for minimum coverage.

"Oh my god, I want to cry all over again," Sharon White said as she looked under a tarp covering her 2007 Nissan Sentra.

It caught fire without warning on the way home from her job as a house cleaner.

"The flames came out of this side of my car when I pulled over," she said. "The man who pulled up behind me said you need to run. It's going to blow."

She wasn't hurt, but her car was a total loss. Generally, an insurance company would total out the car and write the driver a check for whatever it is worth. But for that to happen, the driver would have to have collision or at least comprehensive insurance.

"My insurance company said there is nothing they can do because I only have liability," she said.

This is a good reminder to take a good look at car insurance policies.

Sharon White and her burned out car

Warning about minimum insurance

Cate Deventer with said accident claims are more expensive than ever, driven by the rising costs of medical care, vehicle parts and new and used cars.

"All of that is making claims more expensive," she said. "And then car insurance companies have to raise rates to make sure they have enough in their claims reserves to pay out those claims."

Drivers like Sharon White who carry just state minimum liability, don't have coverage to repair their damaged cars. Worse, if a driver causes injury or damage to another person, Deventer said minimum liability may not be enough.

"You can get quite a bit more coverage for not that much more money," she said.

Meantime, comprehensive insurance would have covered this fire and is inexpensive — around $160 a year.

White is now begging friends for help finding a new, $5,000 car.

"I don't even know how I am going to get back to work," she said. "I don't know how."

It's important to understand what insurance is covering, so if something like this happens, you're covered and you don't waste your money.


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