If your own a lifted pickup truck or plan on adding a lift kit to your vehicle, insurance coverage in case of an accident can become a complicated situation.
So, will auto insurance cover a lifted pickup truck? Insurance companies will not cover a damaged lift kit or non OEM parts without a policy endorsement. Any costs associated with non-endorsed aftermarket parts such, as a suspension lift, will be the responsibility of the owner. Call your agent to confirm if your policy has this coverage.
A lift kit can be covered indirectly, though, by negotiating and re-working the repair estimate part prices and labor with the insurance adjuster and body shop. Every repair estimate is different and offers unique opportunities to make adjustments that can take care of all parties.
If you are filing through the coverage of the at fault party as a claimant, then their liability coverage is responsible for restoring your truck to it’s pre-loss condition. The at-fault party will be responsible for replacing all damaged parts, including a lift kit.
How does insurance for aftermarket modifications work?
Auto insurance policies for collision and comprehensive coverage are intended to restore your vehicle to pre-loss condition. Just like it was right before the accident or another covered loss.
When purchasing coverage, the insurance company will ask if your vehicle has been modified in anyway. When a vehicle is modified in a way that increases it’s repair costs or replacement value, the insurance company will have to charge more for the vehicle’s coverage.
This additional coverage is called a policy endorsement, and can cover items such as an expensive entertainment system, custom wheels, special paint work, and suspension lift kits. Most policy endorsements will cover up to $4000 in additional coverage. Any coverage above $4000 will have to go to a specialized insurance company.
It is recommended to obtain an aftermarket parts policy endorsement if you have or plan on modifying your vehicle. Additional coverage is usually minimal and can cost as little as $80 per 6 month period for $4000 in coverage.
Do not expect your insurance to go up because your lifted truck is viewed as a risk. The insurance will only increase to cover the additional lift kit parts. If you need coverage beyond $4000, check with a specialty lines insurance company so that you can obtain an agreed value for your modifications.
An agreed value insurance policy is a type of coverage where you determine how much your vehicle is worth. The insurance company will underwrite a special policy for your custom vehicle. So, in the case of a total loss or accident requiring repairs, you will then be reimbursed appropriately.
A few insurance companies such as GEICO and Progressive have been known to cover up to $1000 in aftermarket parts without an endorsement. This can vary by state and insurance company, so check with your agent to make sure.
What to do before making a claim with a damaged lift kit
If you have been in an accident and suspect that your lift kit was damaged, you should try to be present for the inspection and pay close attention to the estimate.
Have the following documentation ready for the adjuster:
- Lift kit receipts if you purchased the kit online.
- Installation documentation and instructions for any technicians that will be working on your vehicle.
- Receipts for the installation of the kit so the adjuster knows how much it cost to install.
Once you meet with the adjuster, present them with the installation documentation and any receipts so that they can write an accurate estimate. Most times, only a few components of the lift kit need to be replaced, so having the invoice from the lift kit supplier will make it easier to track down individual suspension parts.
Ask the adjuster to review the estimate with you before they finalize (a.k.a. “lock”) their estimate. Once an adjuster locks the estimate, it usually can only be re-adjusted at a repair facility. It is important to use this opportunity to make sure the adjuster did not omit any visible damage, they are paying for sufficient labor repair times, and to make sure they are including your modified parts in the estimate.
If the adjuster does not include your suspension lift in the estimate, ask them to document it in the estimate notes.
How to rework your estimate to cover non-endorsed modifications
Some of the costs that the adjuster includes in the estimate can be minimized or even avoided to make room for additional non-covered damages. This technique can also be used to reduce or eliminate your deductible.
When working with suspension repairs, such as those involved with damaged lift kits, make sure to understand that there is labor overlap when replacing components on a suspension. Let’s say your truck was hit in the left front wheel and the impact damaged the axle, which includes the lift kit that is installed on it, requiring replacement of all the parts.
Since the axle needed to be removed originally to install the lift kit, now that all of the parts are being replaced, the time the insurance company is paying for to install the axle will overlap some of the time to install the lift kit. This will make it cheaper to install the lift kit.
So instead of paying the full cost for the lift kit installation, only half or less of the cost will be needed as the labor to install the axle is already covered. Your estimate will most likely be different depending on what parts are damaged and how much labor is needed. You will almost never have to pay for the full installation of the lift kit, unless that was the only part damaged.
If your aftermarket repair costs are over the $1000 maximum customization coverage some insurance companies allow, or you do not have any coverage at all, you can still optimize and rework your estimate. Doing so will free up additional funds for your suspension lift.
Here are some common ways of increasing your auto insurance repair estimate:
- Make sure the adjuster is not using any appearance allowances or betterments on your estimate which will lower your payout. An appearance allowance is a reduced credit for minor damage that you are okay with not having repaired. You should always ask for the full repair price of any damage to maximize your estimate. A betterment is a proration of a part based on wear or other factors, which can be negotiated. Check out my article on appearance allowances: How to Dispute an Appearance Allowance on an Estimate, and my article on betterments: How to Dispute Insurance Estimate Betterment Charges, which will help you avoid these pitfalls.
- Make sure the adjuster did not miss any damage. As mentioned earlier, review the repairs with the adjuster before they lock the estimate. If it is too late and the estimate was written without your presence, ask the adjuster for a supplement to cover the missed items. The most commonly missed items on suspension repairs are a suspension alignment, wheel balancing and brake bleeding. I also recommend requesting if the adjuster can add additional access time for extra labor needed to work with the aftermarket suspension lift.
- Work with your repair facility to use more cost effective parts. You can use recycled or aftermarket parts instead of new parts. If the adjuster wrote for a new $1200 axle, but you can source one for $800, you now have an extra $400 to add towards your modification costs.
- You can omit unimportant parts or repairs. Omitting repairs for light cosmetic damages that will not be easily noticed will free up additional funds for your suspension kit. For instance, a small scratch on a fender can cost $250 to repair, but if you can touch it up with a $10 paint pen, and you will save $240.
Filing through the at fault party
If you are filing a not at fault claim through another person’s coverage, you will not have to worry about policy endorsements. The only concern you can have is if the other party has insufficient property damage coverage.
Some states allow a minimum of $5000 or less in property coverage, though most insurance agents do not actively promote policies with such low limits. If you are faced with a situation where an under-insured driver damaged your vehicle, you will have to file with your insurance company. If you do not have collision coverage, then you can sue the at fault party.
If you have a truck with a lift kit, or a vehicle with any modifications on it, make sure to inform your insurance company. Have your modification receipts ready so that your agent can correctly price a policy endorsement for you. With an endorsement, the modifications on your vehicle will be covered and you will not have to worry about paying out of pocket to restore your vehicle to pre-loss condition.