Ontario drivers pay some of the highest insurance premiums in the country and if your car gets damaged, you might assume your policy will cover it – but that may not be the case.
If your vehicle needed repairs prior to the accident, for example, you could be on the hook for the damages.
Pamela Appel of Mississauga said she was driving her 2017 Mercedes Benz recently when her front wheel fell off and caused damage to her front end, tires and rims.
“As I was struggling to keep control, I realized the front wheel had come off and it was airbourne,” Appel told CTV News Toronto. The wheel bounced down the road and into a neighbourhood, she recalled, but fortunately didn’t hit anyone or anything.
Appel’s car acquired about $2,000 in damage, she said. When she contacted her insurance company, she says she was surprised to be told that since the tire didn’t hit anything, it was not considered an accident.
“You pay insurance and you hope it’s going to be there for you and then you are told you are on your own,” Appel said Friday.
A mechanic’s inspection found that it appeared the lug nuts on Appel’s wheels had been over-tightened.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) said that sometimes drivers believe certain items might be covered under their insurance policy when they are not.
“The wheel falling off is a maintenance issue and not an insurance issue,” Anne Marie Thomas with IBC told CTV News Toronto.
According to the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA), which oversees car insurance in the province, insurance does not cover a mechanical failure or breakdown such as engine and transmission damage.
An auto insurance policy also does not cover rusting, wear and tear, and damage to rims and tires (unless you’re in a collision) according to FSRA.
Thomas said that an insurance policy should cover any damage caused by a flying wheel, but not the repairs to the vehicle the wheel came off of.
“If a tire flew off her car and injured someone, the liability section of the policy may pay for the injuries, but it is not going to pay for the damage to the car itself,” Thomas said.
Appel’s insurance company has agreed to review her case.
It is important to keep your vehicle well maintained and your wheels torqued to the proper specifications.
It’s also beneficial to change your oil on time and follow your vehicle’s maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual as the cost to replace an engine can range from $5,000 to as much as $20,000.