Does Car Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?

Comprehensive car insurance covers natural disasters but doesn’t protect you in every situation. Without additional coverage, you may have steep out-of-pocket expenses after a storm.

Amy Beardsley
Written byAmy Beardsley
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Amy BeardsleyInsurance Writer
  • 3+ years writing about auto, home, and life insurance

  • 7+ years in personal finance and technology

Amy specializes in insurance and technology writing and has a talent for transforming complex topics into easy-to-understand stories.

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Courtney Mikulski
Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
  • 3+ years producing insurance and personal finance content

  • Main architect of the Insurify Quality Score

Courtney’s deep personal finance knowledge extends beyond insurance to credit cards, consumer lending, and banking. She thrives on creating actionable content.

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Updated May 23, 2024

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Full-coverage car insurance can pay for vehicle damage from most natural disasters. To protect your car from catastrophes, you’ll need to have the right type of coverage at the right time — insurers can restrict policy changes when a storm is headed your way.

Comparing car insurance quotes from multiple companies can help you find an auto policy to cover vehicle damages from a natural disaster.

Cheapest recent rates

Drivers using Insurify have found quotes as cheap as $35/mo for liability only and $45/mo for full coverage.

*Quotes generated for Insurify users within the last 10 days. Last updated on May 23, 2024

Rates shown are real-time Insurify user quotes from 100+ insurance companies and Quadrant Information Services data. Insurify’s algorithm excludes anomalous quotes and anonymizes personal details, then displays refined quotes by price, date, and insurer popularity up to 10 days ago from May 23, 2024. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer’s unique driver profile.

*Quotes generated for Insurify users within the last 10 days. Last updated on May 23, 2024

Rates shown are real-time Insurify user quotes from 100+ insurance companies and Quadrant Information Services data. Insurify’s algorithm excludes anomalous quotes and anonymizes personal details, then displays refined quotes by price, date, and insurer popularity up to 10 days ago from May 23, 2024. Actual quotes may vary based on the policy buyer’s unique driver profile.

When car insurance covers natural disasters

Comprehensive insurance covers natural disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, flooding, wildfires, and volcanic eruptions. Policies also cover contact with animals, fallen objects, and broken windshields.[1]

It’s important to note that insurers won’t always let you add comprehensive coverage right before a catastrophic event. This is called a binding restriction, and it stops customers from changing or adding policies. The restriction is temporary, usually starting a few days before the event and lasting until a few days after.

If you’re not sure about your policy limits or what coverages you have, it’s a good idea to speak with your insurance agent to confirm you have the protection you need.

Types of Car Insurance Coverage

Types of Car Insurance Coverage

What comprehensive insurance doesn’t cover

Comprehensive coverage can provide a safety net for certain types of natural disasters, but it has limitations. First, because your insurance company can impose binding restrictions, it’s crucial to have coverage in place before a storm hits. Additionally, you might be more at risk than you realize.

For example, you might expect coastal areas to have a high risk. But inland cities like Dallas, Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Minneapolis, Minnesota, can also be at high risk, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Risk Index.[2]

Review your policy regularly to make sure your coverage is enough for the following scenarios:

  • Floods: Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle against flood damage from rain, snow, coastal storms, dam overflows, and other causes.

  • Hail damage: If you have a comprehensive policy, your auto insurer can cover the cost of repairs from hail damage.

  • Tornadoes: Comprehensive insurance protects your car after wind damage, falling branches, and other damage due to tornadoes.

  • Hurricanes: With a comprehensive policy, your coverage safeguards you from a hurricane’s falling debris, strong winds, and water damage.

To better understand the situations that might affect your area, the American Red Cross provides an interactive map showing common natural disasters in different U.S. regions.

What to know about ‘act of God’ car insurance clauses

An “act of God” is an unexpected natural event beyond human control, such as earthquakes, floods, or severe weather like hurricanes and tornadoes. An act of God clause can appear in your auto insurance policy, whether you have liability-only or full coverage. The key is your policy’s coverage for these events.

Remember, liability insurance and collision coverages exclude acts of God. Comprehensive insurance covers these incidents but may come with limitations. Check your policy details to clarify which acts of God it doesn’t and doesn’t cover.

Filing an insurance claim after a natural disaster

The aftermath of a natural disaster can be overwhelming. Knowing how to navigate your insurance claims process is crucial. Familiarize yourself with the following information before a force of nature hits.

How to file a claim after a natural disaster

Contact your insurance company to report the damage and begin the claims process as soon as it’s safe. Document the location, date, and time of the incident. If possible, list the damage you can visibly see and take photos or videos.

Average Cost of Car Insurance: Trends and Statistics (2024)

Average Cost of Car Insurance: Trends and Statistics (2024)

The role of deductibles in disaster claims

Review your policy to understand the coverage limits and deductibles that may apply. Deductibles are what you pay out of pocket before your collision or comprehensive insurance kicks in to cover the rest.

Depending on the specifics of your claim, you might pay the deductible to the repair shop directly or your insurance company might issue you a reimbursement check for the repair costs minus the deductible. If you have concerns, reach out to your insurance agent to discuss your options.

Good to Know

Liability-only policies or the liability part of your full-coverage car insurance policy don’t have deductibles.

Understanding the effect of disasters on future premiums

Natural disasters can influence your future insurance premiums. Filing a car insurance claim can cause your car insurance premiums to increase. Additionally, if you live in a disaster-prone region, insurers may adjust rates based on the frequency and severity of regional claims.

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Extra coverage for peace of mind

While comprehensive coverage offers broad safeguards against nature’s calamities, it falls short in a few scenarios. Supplemental coverage options are available to fill the gaps and enhance your vehicle’s protection. Before adding more coverage, weigh the costs against the potential benefits to be sure it makes sense for your situation.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/abffe6238f/financial-protection.svg

    Gap insurance

    If you finance or lease your vehicle, gap insurance is extremely helpful. It covers the difference between your car’s actual cash value and the amount you owe on it in case of total loss or theft. This coverage is especially important in the early years of a vehicle’s life when depreciation can outpace loan repayment.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/169fdfde11/liability-coverage.svg

    Collision coverage

    You may already know that collision coverage protects your vehicle against damages from accidents, regardless of fault. This can be helpful if you accidentally back into a pole or a parked car.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/5285c4cd74/uninsured-or-underinsured-motorist-coverage.svg

    Underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage

    You may find yourself in an accident with a driver who lacks sufficient insurance or, worse, doesn’t have insurance at all. About one in seven drivers doesn’t carry car insurance, according to the Insurance Research Council.[3] In this situation, underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage can help with your costs.

  • illustration card https://a.storyblok.com/f/162273/x/38dc81ba93/drive-1.svg

    New car replacement insurance

    New car replacement insurance is similar to gap coverage. While gap insurance covers the remaining balance on your loan, new car replacement covers the cost of a brand-new vehicle of the same make and model. This makes it ideal for new car owners.

Car insurance and natural disasters FAQs

Navigating car insurance in the wake of natural disasters can raise many questions. Here are the answers to common questions about car insurance coverage and natural disasters.

  • Which natural disasters does car insurance not cover?

    A standard liability-only car insurance policy excludes damage from natural disasters like earthquakes and floods. You’ll need comprehensive insurance or a full-coverage policy that includes protection against catastrophic events.

  • Does collision insurance cover damage to a car from a natural disaster?

    Collision insurance offers no coverage for damages due to acts of nature. This coverage pays for vehicle damage from accidents involving a stationary object or another vehicle. For natural disaster protection, you’ll need comprehensive coverage.

  • What types of natural disasters typically have coverage under comprehensive car insurance plans?

    Comprehensive car insurance plans typically cover a range of natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, hailstorms, wildfires, and other events classified as “acts of God.”

  • How does a claim for damage from a natural disaster affect your car insurance premium?

    Filing a claim for damage from a natural disaster can cause an increase in car insurance premiums. Insurers may view a claim as an increased risk, leading to higher rates. However, the effect varies based on the insurer, your location, and the frequency of claims in your area.

Sources

  1. III. "What is covered by collision and comprehensive auto insurance?."
  2. National Risk Index. "Map."
  3. III. "Uninsured Driving Dipped in 2022 After Pandemic Spurred a Multi-year Rise."
Amy Beardsley
Amy BeardsleyInsurance Writer

Amy is a personal finance and technology writer. With a background in the legal field and a bachelor's degree from Ferris State University, she has a talent for transforming complex topics into content that’s easy to understand. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.

Courtney Mikulski
Edited byCourtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
Courtney Mikulski
Courtney MikulskiSenior Editor, Auto
  • 3+ years producing insurance and personal finance content

  • Main architect of the Insurify Quality Score

Courtney’s deep personal finance knowledge extends beyond insurance to credit cards, consumer lending, and banking. She thrives on creating actionable content.

Featured in

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