Claims handlers are often charged with determining if an automotive engine failure is a result of an impact with an object or a result of an internal problem that caused the damage, typically called mechanical failure.

Many policies are written to extend coverage when the vehicle impacts an object causing damage to the engine, while coverage is denied if an internal malfunction causes damage to the engine.

Figure 1 is a view of a penetration in an engine block that was claimed to be caused by an external object striking the engine.

Figure 2 is a view of a typical engine. Penetrations in the block area shown by the upper arrow are typically the result of an internal engine problem such as connecting rod or piston failure.

The engine block is higher up in the vehicle engine compartment and less vulnerable to penetration by an object found on the road. A penetration at the oil pan can be a result of impact with a road object as this is an area that is low and close to the road on a vehicle.

Figure 3 is a view of an engine mounted in longitudinal fashion — the crankshaft is parallel to the long axis of the vehicle. The lower arrow points to the oil pan which is more vulnerable to road object impact than the engine block as indicated by the upper arrow.

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