MONDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2012
Although the rest of the U.S. may look at us as strange (and movies like "Grumpy Old Men" certainly don't help), ice fishing is a way of life in the winter months for many here in the Midwest. Assuming global warming hasn't taken its toll, the middle of December is usually when the lakes freeze over and people begin to use them as regular roadways. All types of vehicles from small cars to large trucks are seen out on the lakes, which poses an interesting insurance question: Is there coverage for a vehicle that breaks through the ice?
Coverage for vehicles breaking through the ice can be found under the comprehensive coverage part of a personal automobile policy. Of course, one has to voluntarily carry comprehensive coverage on their vehicle because unlike liability and UM/UIM coverage, carrying comprehensive is not state mandated. Comprehensive coverage (after the deductible) will cover the cost to repair or replace the vehicle, as well as the costs to retrieve and tow away the vehicle.
Although you would be covered in this claim instance, we at PCG recommend checking the thickness of the ice before driving any type of vehicle on a lake (the DNR recommends at least 8" for small cars). Claims are often a long and stressful process, and any steps that can be taken to prevent such instances are highly recommended.
This literature is descriptive only. Actual coverage is subject to the policy as written. This information may also vary by state.