Does a Recall Affect My Car Insurance?

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  • Vehicle recalls are paid for by the manufacturer, so all you need to do is schedule a repair and show up.
  • You don't need to involve your auto insurance at all for a recall, and as such, your auto insurance rates shouldn't be affected.
  • You can see if your vehicle has any active recalls by using the NHTSA look-up tool.

A safe car is a happy car.

Your typical car has what could be thousands of parts that must all work together in an automotive symphony to perform at its best. By the law of large numbers alone, at least a few of those parts are going to be a bit less efficient or effective than their counterparts.

When the same parts consistently cause issues in multiple vehicles -- well, then you might have a manufacturing problem. And when those issues impair the safety of the vehicle, with potentially deadly results, then you typically end up with a recall.

Millions of recalls occur every year

Automotive recalls are surprisingly common. Indeed, millions of vehicles can have a recall in any given year, for everything from buggy software to leaky hoses. In one of the busiest years, 2014, around 62 million vehicles were recalled.

Many recalls are initiated by the manufacturers -- likely to avoid regulatory scrutiny -- though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can also initiate them after receiving complaints that lead to an investigation.

Car recalls have little to no impact on insurance

Car recalls are generally like any other product with manufacturing defects. That is to say, the manufacturer will fix safety recalls on their own dime. All the vehicle's owner needs to do is schedule the repair and show up.

Even better, because recalls are usually handled entirely by the manufacturer, you don't need to get your auto insurance involved at all. You don't need to make a claim or anything like that. In fact, recalls -- or the associated repairs -- don't need to be reported to your insurance agency in any way.

Since your insurance company isn't involved in the process, recalls shouldn't have any impact on your auto insurance rates.

Worst case scenario

As with most things, there is a potential exception to your insurer's noninvolvement: extreme negligence.

If you know about a major safety recall and fail to get the problem fixed, then that issue leads to a crash -- especially if that crash has fatal results -- the insurance company may have grounds to say you were negligent and deny your insurance claim.

For example, if a safety problem is severe enough, the manufacturer may issue a "Do Not Drive" alert, such as the one put out by Honda earlier this year. If you continue to drive the vehicle without having the recall addressed, any resulting claims could be denied by your insurance on the basis of owner negligence.

While this scenario is extremely uncommon, it's something to keep in mind.

No downside to addressing recalls

To sum it up: Recall-related repairs are paid for by the manufacturer. Except in rare worst case scenarios, your auto insurance has absolutely nothing to do with your recall.

Together, this all means that the only downside to getting a recall addressed is taking time out of your schedule to take the vehicle into the shop. Considering the downsides of not repairing a recall can be a serious injury or death, that inconvenience doesn't seem so bad.

There's even an easy way to see if your vehicle has any active recalls: the NHTSA recall look-up. Simply enter your VIN (vehicle identification number) and the tool does the rest. (You can find your car's VIN on the vehicle itself -- often in the corner of the windshield -- or it may be on your registration or insurance card.)

If you find your car has an active recall, address it as soon as possible. All it takes is a phone call to your manufacturer's customer service line to set up a repair at a local dealer or another approved mechanic.

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