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Does car insurance cover airbag replacement?

Learn how Root can help if you find yourself with airbag damage after a covered accident.

All about airbags and their deployment

Airbags are a critical safety feature. They keep you and your passengers secure in the event of an auto accident by protecting your bodies from some or all of the impact from a crash. 

Fact—since 1999, front airbags have been required by law in all new passenger vehicle builds and they reduce driver fatalities in frontal auto accidents by 29%.

There are five different categories of airbags: 

  • Frontal airbags (steering wheel and dashboard) 

  • Knee airbags (underneath steering wheel)

  • Side curtain airbags (interior left and right)

  • Side torso airbags (left and right front seats)

  • Seatbelt airbags (compressed into belt) 

So what happens when an airbag deploys? And what triggers their deployment?

Many vehicles today are built with pressure and crash sensors. These help your car recognize when a collision has occurred. Newer cars also often have additional sensors that know when passengers and drivers are (or aren’t) wearing their seat belts.

Generally, if your vehicle is hit at a rate that would be considered equal to a 16 mph impact into a hard wall, your front airbags will deploy. 

In more recent car models that have a seat belt sensor connected to the airbags, deployment can be triggered after an accident that is equal to a 10-12 mph impact into a hard wall if one or more passengers is not wearing their seatbelt.

When your airbags deploy, they will provide a cushion between yourself and your passengers, and whatever your car is crashing into. However, airbags don’t always deploy. In the case of a fender bender or other minor incident such as going too quickly over a pothole, airbags typically remain intact. 

When there is high activity with no deployment, the instance is referred to as a non-deployment event

So, how fast do airbags deploy? In frontal collisions, airbag deployment can happen at anywhere from 15 to 30 milliseconds into the event, which is quite fast. For some perspective, the average car crash lasts anywhere from 70 to 150 milliseconds. So if you’re in a dangerous collision, airbag systems can react very early on, protecting your body from as much damage as possible.

Which insurance type covers airbag replacement?

Since most crashes do involve airbag deployment, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper insurance. For airbag replacement, you’ll need Collision coverage; Liability alone won’t help. 

Collision helps protect you if you’re hit by another car, run into an object (like a pole), and even if you’re in a single-car accident (just you). With this coverage, you’ll need to set a deductible. This is the amount you’ll need to pay on your claim before your insurance kicks in to help. 

Let’s say your deductible is $500 and you were in a crash where the cost to repair the damages is $800. You’d have to pay the $500 before your insurance company covered the remaining $300. 

Comprehensive coverage could also help with airbag replacement if your airbags were damaged in a covered incident. Comprehensive is meant to help cover damages for things outside of your control other than an auto accident (such as flood or car theft). 

However, if you were to hit a deer, for instance, and the impact caused your airbags to deploy, Comprehensive could help cover those damages. And like with Collision, your insurance kicks in after you pay your deductible.

How much does it cost to replace airbags? 

On average, it can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 to replace an airbag. But oftentimes it’s much more expensive. If the accident is quite bad, the average cost goes up to about $3,000 to $5,000. 

The cost to replace your airbags also depends on the type of car you drive, with certain makes or models being more expensive. The location of the damaged airbag can also affect your repair costs. Passenger side airbags are often more costly than driver’s side airbags. 

On top of that, mechanics charge you for their labor, and labor costs can easily add anywhere from $80 to $100 (hourly) on top of your total repair costs.

Does airbag deployment total a car?

A vehicle is considered totalled when the cost to repair it is more than it’s actually worth. The deployment itself would be unlikely to total your car. It’s more likely that the majority of the damage would come from the collision. 

If your insurance company determines your vehicle to be a total loss after a covered accident, and you have Collision or Comprehensive coverage, they can help with replacement costs after you pay your deductible.

The payout for a car that’s a total loss would be equal to the market value of that vehicle minus the deductible. So if your deductible is $500, and the market value of your vehicle is $10,000, your insurance company would pay $9,500.

Need transportation while you wait?

Perhaps your car is getting fixed and you need a rental while you wait to pick it up from the mechanic.

Root offers Rental Car coverage because we want you to be able to keep moving even when your car can’t. Sometimes referred to as “rental car reimbursement,” this is a useful coverage to have on your policy as an extra layer of protection for the unexpected. 

This is especially true if your vehicle is your primary way of getting around town and you don’t have any other reliable transportation options. 

Root customers who want this extra security can easily update their coverages anytime in our mobile app.

Our commitment to fairness

At Root, we base car insurance rates primarily on driving behavior instead of demographic data like ZIP code, occupation, age, etc.

And we love it when good drivers save money. That’s why we’re committed to helping our customers get the coverage they need at the rate they deserve.

You see, Root only insures the best drivers. Which means we are generally able to keep rates low so our customers don’t have to account for the mistakes of the riskier drivers on the road. 

Getting started with Root is simple. Download our easy-to-use app, and take the test drive. After driving around like normal for a few weeks, you’ll receive a quote based primarily on how you drive—not who you are or where you live. 

Worried about airbag replacement costs?

Switch to Root—we’ll make sure your car has the proper coverage so it can keep covering your commute. Get a quote.

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