As vehicles become more complex, there are multiple new technical problems with which the average car owner has to contend. One of these new technologies is High Intensity Discharge Xenon lighting. HID lamps last longer and are brighter than more common halogen bulbs, but cost more to replace.
So, does auto insurance cover HID Xenon light bulbs? Auto insurance will not cover an HID Xenon light bulb if it fails due to age or wear. If your car was in an accident, and the headlight bulbs were damaged, they will be replaced under your collision coverage. If the bulbs fail shortly after your repairs, they can still be related to the loss.
As an insurance auto damage adjuster, I write dozens of insurance estimates each week. In order for a component to be included in an estimate, a clear relationship to a covered loss has to be established. Let me explain how HID Xenon lighting systems work and under what scenarios you are eligible for a replacement.
HID Light Bulbs Require a Ballast to Operate
If your HID lighting system has failed, this does not necessarily mean your xenon bulb has burned out. A xenon bulb requires an electrical component known as a ballast (link to Amazon) to operate. The ballast regulates the electricity going to the bulb, as it it can require upwards of 20,000 volts to start and around 80 volts to operate.
An HID ballast should last the lifetime of the vehicle, but being an electric part, this is not guaranteed. A failing HID xenon ballast will exhibit the following symptoms before it completely stops working:
- Headlights take a long time to reach full brightness
- Diminished lighting output
- Flickering lights
- Varying lighting output
How to Determine if Your HID Bulb or Ballast has Failed
Assuming your other headlight works, you can switch headlight bulbs between the two lamps. If the known operational bulb fails to illuminate on the side in question, then your ballast has failed. If your bulb fails to illuminate on the side where the other bulb was working, then your bulb has failed.
A failed HID bulb will have a purplish or black hue in the central capsule chamber. There can also be scorching and burn marks on the outside glass capsule. Remember, avoid touching any of the bulbs with your fingers. Oil from skin leaves a residue on the glass, which will heat up during operation and cause a good xenon bulb to fail prematurely.
An original HID bulb from the manufacturer should last around 3000 hours of use, or about 5 to 7 years depending on how much you use your vehicle. The average price of an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) HID bulb from the dealership is $249.78 ¹ and the average price for an OEM HID Ballast is $302.56 ² .
Replacing an HID bulb, including labor at the dealership could cost as much as $740.85,* so unless you have a low deductible, replacing the bulb yourself could be more cost effective.
Amazon sells high quality original equipment replacement HID bulbs made by Philips Lighting (link to Amazon) that cost as little as a third of dealer invoice.
Scenarios where Auto Insurance will Cover an HID Xenon Light Bulb:
If your vehicle was in a frontal collision with another vehicle or object, the HID bulb or ballast could have been affected even if the headlight is intact. The jarring motion from the crash will send shock waves throughout the vehicles structure into parts such as the headlight. This can internally damage the HID light bulb or ballast.
Physical damage to the lighting system, indicative by a dent or impact mark, is not necessary to prove that failure is related to the accident. The fact that these delicate electrical components were in the proximity of the crash is enough to support a reason for replacement. If your headlight was damaged and replaced, then these parts should have been included, if the damage adjuster could not verify they were operational.
If you received your vehicle back from the repair shop and the headlights failed within a week, it is still possible to relate their failure to the accident. In this case, the impact damage was not strong enough to immediately break the parts, but enough to reduce their lifespan.
You can convince the adjuster by reviewing the damage estimate and asking them if any other vehicle parts around the headlights were replaced. If the adjuster refuses to cover the bulbs ask them for proof on how they can deny coverage for the bulbs .
I have revised many estimates where broken items were covered due to their proximity to the impact. Now, do not expect a rear end collision or impact to your rear quarter panel to cover your HID bulbs, it is just too far away to relate. If the adjuster still refuses to take care of your lights, check out this article on how to deal with an auto damage adjuster.
Just like a collision with another vehicle, an impact with a deer can affect your headlights in the same way. Most deer collisions happen at the front or down the side of the vehicle and are not always as pronounced in severity as in a collision with a vehicle.
Since an impact with a deer’s body can spread the contact area of the impact over the collision point of your car, the parts in that area may appear only slightly damaged or dented. Regardless, this impact can still send shock waves throughout the headlight and body of the vehicle which can damage the light bulbs.
Water Related Loss
Moisture in the headlights is obvious damage that any adjuster should not miss. If your headlights were cracked from an accident that occurred during a rainfall, or the car was outside in the rain while it was waiting for repairs, the light bulbs were most likely damaged.
The delicate nature of HID bulbs requires no moisture to come in contact with the bulb’s surface. Any exposure to moisture will require replacement of that bulb as its lifespan will be reduced or even cause it to fail immediately.
I have seen body shops try to dry out headlights that were previously filled with water or condensation. The bulbs that were in that headlight were certainly damaged from their exposure to the water.
Make sure to let you adjuster know if the accident occurred during a rainstorm, so that they can pay close attention to the bulbs during their inspection.
If your vehicle sustains a significant impact from running into a pothole, where your vehicle bottoms out on its frame or front bumper, it is possible that the delicate HID headlight bulb could have been damaged. The shock waves from bottoming out a vehicle’s frame on the road surface can propagate throughout the vehicle’s structure and shake the HID capsule to the point of failure.
This can also happen if the vehicle’s bumper came in contact with the road surface and was pushed up into the headlight which is mounted above it. Make sure to check for fresh scrape markings to the underside of your vehicle’s frame and bumper if your HID lighting went out.
Is it Worth Making a Claim for a Broken HID Xenon Bulb?
Before calling your car insurance company to make a claim, make sure to determine the cost of repairs. Some mechanics and parts stores can provide a free diagnostic for your vehicle, so call around to find a shop that can help if you cannot diagnose the lights on your own.
It is cost effective to file this claim only if you have a very low deductible or have 2 headlights that have gone bad. Additionally, your damage has to be relatable to a covered loss event as mentioned in the earlier scenarios. Even if the repair costs are slightly over your deductible, it still may not be worth filing an insurance claim as having a claim, on your record is likely to increase your insurance premium.
*$575.85 light bulb x 1.5 hrs of labor @ $110 an hr = $740.85
|Vehicle||OEM Price of HID Bulb||OEM Price of HID Ballast|
|2007 Lexus ES 350||$175.00||$271.36|
|2015 ACURA RDX||$575.85||$282.97|
|2007 Infiniti G35||$227.02||$88.97|
|2010 Mercedes-Benz E 350||$181.04||$416.83|
|2012 BMW 528i||$158.09||$391.48|
|2015 Audi A5||$181.67||$363.75|
|Average Price||$249.78 ¹||$302.56 ²|