Most incidents involving animal damage, including rodents chewing on wires, are covered by comprehensive auto insurance coverage; however, not every insurance policy has this coverage.
As long as you've chosen to add comprehensive coverage — and have met your deductible — your insurance will typically help defray the cost of repair. Furthermore, you can also take several proactive steps identified below to stop rodents from chewing your car's wires altogether.
How does car insurance cover rodent damage and chewed wires?
Your car insurance will generally cover the cost to repair or replace damage done to your car by animals, like frayed wires or damage due to a nest, so long as you carry comprehensive coverage.
Rodents are prevalent across North America, and they sometimes hide away inside your car, truck or RV. Once they're inside, they can chew on electrical wires or make a nest, damaging your car in the process, potentially rendering it inoperable and costing you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars in repairs.
Comprehensive insurance coverage pays for damage to your car or truck from any cause other than a collision. In addition to damaged wires, comprehensive coverage also pays for things like:
- Hail damage
- Falling debris
However, confirm with your insurance company to verify that rodent damage is covered, as it may not be in every location or circumstance.
Comprehensive coverage is usually mandatory for a car you lease or loan; lenders include it as a requirement of the lease or loan contract in order to protect their investment. Otherwise, it's an optional add-on, so we recommend checking your auto insurance policy before you've discovered rodent damage to see whether you have it.
Adding comprehensive coverage to your car insurance policy typically adds an additional 7%-11% to a basic liability-only insurance plan, though the exact amount you'll pay is heavily influenced by the model of car you have, your location and your driving history.
For example, if the bill to repair the wiring damage is $400 but your deductible is $500, insurance won't cover you, and you'll be responsible for the entire amount.
If rats or squirrels damage your car and you don't have comprehensive coverage, or your deductible is too high for coverage to go into effect, you'll have to pay for the damage on your own. But it may be a good idea to add comprehensive coverage after repairs are completed, as rodents often strike the same vehicle more than once. You may not be able to get paid back this time, but you can save yourself some future hassle by adding comprehensive coverage to your insurance policy.
Does homeowners insurance cover rodent damage?
Unfortunately, homeowners insurance doesn't cover damage to your car, even if your vehicle is parked inside your home or on your property when the animals get inside. Additionally, damage from rodents generally is not covered by homeowners or renters insurance, so you wouldn't be able to make a claim if the rats damaged your home's wiring, either.
Why do rodents eat car wires?
There's no clear reason rodents like to chew on car, truck and RV wires. One prominent theory is that the wires resemble branches, and the animals think they are chewing on wood. All rodents do this in order to wear their teeth down (rodent teeth grow constantly — much like our fingernails — so they have to wear them down).
Another theory is that car companies have recently switched to soy-based wire casings, so the animals are eating them for nutritional value. However, a class-action lawsuit against Toyota claiming that the food-based wires cause the issue was dismissed in 2018, suggesting the soy-based wiring is not conclusively the cause of rodent damage.
How to prevent rodents from chewing car wires
While your car insurance will help defray the cost of repairing your car after it's damaged by vermin, it's ideal to prevent the damage from occurring in the first place — or to stop it from recurring. Here are some techniques that may protect your vehicle's wiring from rats, squirrels and other unwanted pests.
- Park your car elsewhere: If possible, park your car inside your garage, where mice and rats will not easily be able to get into your vehicle, making sure to seal any holes in your garage walls that you can find. If parking indoors isn't an option, look for a place away from grass and other areas where varmints could hide.
- Eliminate food sources: Food is the biggest thing that attracts pests, so moving food sources away from your car may alleviate the problem. Make sure your garbage cans are tightly sealed, and don't store pet food or other edible items where rats, squirrels or mice could get them.
- Repel or catch the rodents: You can use traps or sonic repelling tools to try to catch or disperse the rodents. This method works best if your car is parked in an enclosed area.
- Use "rodent tape" or other chemical deterrents: Some people with rat problems have been able to deter animals from eating the wires in their car by wrapping the wires with spicy tape. Bitter or sour sprays, which rodents also don't like, can work, too.
- Move your car regularly: Animals are likely to move into a vehicle that's been parked for a long time. Driving your car every day, or even every week, may make it a less appealing target.