- Weather-related events are causing more and more damage, but your auto insurance policy may not provide adequate coverage to repair or replace your car.
- Comprehensive coverage covers most natural and man-made disaster damage, but there may be limitations that impact your reimbursement.
As weather events and natural disasters seem to get more prevalent and everyday there is news of another catastrophic emergency that impacts communities, it’s a good time to evaluate your coverage and ensure your car insurance covers natural disasters.
Car insurance coverage for natural disasters depends on the type of insurance policy you have, and the specific terms and conditions outlined in your policy. In most cases, standard auto insurance policies (e.g., collision or liability policies) do not automatically cover damage caused by natural disasters.
However, you may have the option to purchase additional coverage, like comprehensive, or riders/add-ons to protect your vehicle from today’s emergency events.
Does Comprehensive Coverage Insure Your Car Against Natural & Man-Made Disasters?
Yes, comprehensive car insurance, or full coverage when added to collision and liability insurance, covers natural disasters in most cases. Comprehensive coverage is optional and covers damage from events outside of your control, such as natural disasters, theft, vandalism, and wildlife incidents—however, the type and amounts can depend on your insurance company and it’s important to understand your specific policy.
Comprehensive coverage may pay to repair or replace your vehicle, minus your deductible, following damage incurred during a disaster. Be sure you understand if your insurance provider has special limitations or requirements to follow when filing a claim after a natural disaster.
If you don’t have comprehensive coverage, your policy likely won’t cover damages to your vehicle from a natural disaster or “Acts of God” such as riots, theft, and vandalism. Collision-only insurance excludes disaster-related coverage.
Types of Disasters Not Commonly Covered by Insurance
Here are some common types of situations, including natural disasters and man-made events, and how they may be covered through your comprehensive coverage, often referred to as “other than collision” coverage. Again, it’s important to evaluate your policy in depth if you live or travel in an area that is especially prone to any of these events.
Does car insurance cover flood damage? Yes and no—standard comprehensive coverage usually includes protection against flood damage, but it’s important to note that flood insurance for vehicles is separate from regular auto insurance. If you live in an area prone to flooding, you may need to purchase a separate, more extensive, flood insurance policy to cover your vehicle.
Remember, when water is involved, especially if your car is exposed for an extended period of time, there is the risk of rust, foul odors, mold, corrosion, and malfunctioning electrical and/or mechanical components. Whether you live near salt water or fresh water, flood waters can be catastrophic for vehicles.
Similar to flood insurance, earthquake damage can include crush and impact damage as well as fire and explosion damage and is not typically covered under standard auto insurance policies. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, you may need to purchase earthquake insurance as a separate policy to protect your vehicle.
In many areas of the country, hailstorms are a common occurrence during the spring months and can cause significant damage to vehicles, including cracked and broken windows and extensive body and paint damage. Comprehensive coverage typically covers hail damage, but you should check your policy for specific details and any deductible that may apply.
Motorists in some areas that have experienced increases in weather events are paying more for car insurance to cover hail damage.
Does my car insurance cover fire damage? Comprehensive coverage usually covers damage caused by fires, as long as it is not the result of a collision. However, with the major increase in catastrophic wildfires in the West, insurance policies and coverage may vary, so it’s important to review your policy for any exclusions related to wildfires.
Another point to consider—if you are found responsible for starting a wildfire that damages someone else’s property or injures someone, your liability coverage may help pay for their losses or medical expenses. Again, it’s important to understand the coverage your policy provides.
Hurricanes, Tornadoes, and Lightning Strikes
Wide swaths of the country are experiencing increased climatic disasters—hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning strikes, and atmospheric river activity—which impacts communities. Like other growing threats, people in those areas are experiencing increasing costs associated with car insurance cover for hurricane damage and the like. However, going without the coverage afforded by comprehensive coverage can be devastating.
Again, if you live in an area that is especially prone to weather related disasters, be sure to talk with your insurance agent to determine the best options for car insurance coverage.
“Acts of God” and Man-Made Disasters
An “Act of God” usually refers to a disaster that equates to damages caused by circumstances wholly out of the control of the vehicle owner. In addition to natural disasters, these can include (and are not limited to):
- Riots and Civil Unrest
- Fallen Trees
Things to Consider Before Selecting Car Insurance
Hopefully, you will never need to worry about catastrophic weather or natural events or filing an insurance claim after a disaster. However, as those odds seemingly increase, it’s best to be adequately covered and knowledgeable about the costs and coverages available.
Here are some things to consider as you appraise your options for comprehensive coverage.
How Much Deductible to Carry on Your Auto Policy
When you file a car insurance claim for damage caused by a natural disaster, you will typically be subject to a deductible as defined by your policy. This is the amount you must pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in.
The specific deductible amount can vary depending on your policy and usually is anywhere from $0 to as high as $1,000 per incident. Obviously, the lower your participation (or deductible dollar amount) the more expense your premiums.
It’s also important to consider keeping money set aside (in escrow, if you will) when you choose a higher deductible. That way, you have the money available should you need it.
Limitations Defined by Your Insurance Policy
Insurance policies may have limitations on coverage for certain natural disasters. For example, flood damage is often not covered by standard auto insurance and requires a separate flood insurance policy.
These limitations may grow in the future as weather becomes more unpredictable and insurance companies grapple with their growing obligations and changing business model. Be sure to review your policy’s terms and conditions to understand any limitations.
Geographic Factors Will Carry More Weight in the Future
As we’ve already discussed, the extent of coverage for natural disasters can also depend on your location. If you live in an area prone to certain types of natural disasters, such as coastal regions vulnerable to hurricanes or wildfire-prone areas, you may need to purchase additional coverage or endorsements to ensure adequate protection.
Required vs. Optional Coverage Cost
While liability insurance is typically required by law in most states, comprehensive coverage is optional. However, if you have a car loan or lease, your lender may require you to carry comprehensive coverage until the loan is paid off.
Adding comprehensive coverage to your auto insurance policy will increase your premiums. The cost of this coverage can vary based on factors like your location, the value of your vehicle, and your deductible choice.
Additional Considerations May Include Add-On Coverage
Whether for convenience or out of necessity, you may need to add on additional coverage that will pay for expenses out of the typical, such as:
After Market Upgrades
Different insurance companies may have different policies regarding aftermarket upgrades. Some common aftermarket upgrades that people may add to their vehicles include performance enhancements, custom paint jobs, audio systems, and custom wheels—all things that can be significantly damaged during an unexpected natural disaster and not covered by standard insurance.
If you’ve made significant upgrades that have increased the value of your vehicle, you might want to consider “agreed value” or “stated value” coverage instead of traditional “actual cash value” coverage. These policies allow you and your insurer to agree on the value of your car, factoring in the aftermarket upgrades.
Rental Car Reimbursement
In the event of a natural disaster that renders your vehicle undriveable, rental car reimbursement coverage can be valuable. It helps cover the cost of renting a replacement vehicle while yours is being repaired or replaced. Be sure you understand the limitations that come with this type of coverage and have adequate reimbursement available should you need it.
Emergency Roadside Assistance
Natural disasters can lead to unexpected breakdowns or stranded vehicles. Emergency roadside assistance coverage can help you get assistance for towing, fuel delivery, or other emergency services during such events or anytime you need help.
Some Additional Coverages Your Insurance Company May Offer
Some insurance companies offer riders for a variety of different circumstances. Here are a couple of examples:
Engine Protector Coverage
The Engine Protector add-on rider offers reimbursement for expenses incurred when you need to fix the indirect damage done by water or fluids, including leakage of lubricating oil that leads to the loss or damage to some engine parts, and gearbox or differential parts. This can be important during unexpected events that are water related.
Pet Injury Coverage
This covers vet bills if your pet is injured in an accident while riding in your vehicle. This type of insurance is not widely offered but can be valuable to pet owners, especially during an emergency event when you may have had to evacuate without adequate safety equipment, like crates or harnesses.
Excess Electronic Equipment Coverage
In the age of hyper connectedness, you can have expensive electronic equipment in your car, like navigation systems or entertainment systems, and this type of coverage can protect them.
Emergency Repair Service Coverage
This type of add-on covers emergency repairs made on the spot, such as a quick fix for a blown hose or a minor engine repair, allowing you to drive your car to a repair shop.
Finding the Best Value for Your Car Insurance Coverage
Car insurance can be expensive and with the available add-ons and special considerations, it may be worth exploring the costs associated with various insurance companies. With einsurance.com, you can get a no-obligation quote from insurance carriers interested in doing business with you.
It’s essential to read your car insurance policy carefully, ask questions from your insurance provider, and understand the terms and conditions of your coverage. If you live in an area prone to specific natural disasters, such as flooding or earthquakes, consider discussing additional coverage options with your insurer to ensure you have adequate protection.
To Sum Up
Always review your auto insurance policy annually to understand what types of natural disasters are covered and whether you need to purchase additional coverage for specific events. Additionally, be aware of any deductibles or coverage limits that may apply to natural disaster claims. Keep in mind that coverage and options may vary from one insurer to another and may be subject to state-specific regulations.
Contact einsurance.com for a comprehensive quote on auto insurance. You will have a chance to talk with knowledgeable insurance agents and find the best price for the optimal coverage based on your circumstances.