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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
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Posted at 6:00 AM, Sep 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-28 07:05:06-04

Drivers know that anything can happen on the road, which is why we have auto insurance.

But some insurance policies won't cover everything when needed, especially if you have "minimum" coverage.

Sharon White looked under a tarp covering her 2007 Nissan Sentra.

"Oh my god, I want to cry all over again," she said, looking over the burned vehicle.

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 was uninjured, but her car was a total loss.

Generally, if this were to happen to your car, your insurance company would total it out and write you a check for whatever it is worth.

But for that to happen, you 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 your insurance policy.

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Sharon White and her burned out car

Warning about minimum insurance

Cate Deventer with Bankrate.com says 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 car.

Worse, if you cause injury or damage to another person, Deventer says 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 now is begging friends for help finding a new $5,000 dollar car.

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

Make sure you understand your insurance, so if something like this happens to you, you're covered, and you don't waste your money.

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