Does Car Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?

Comprehensive car insurance coverage protects against natural disaster damage. Learn more below.

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Ava Lynch

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Ava joined The Zebra as a writer and licensed insurance agent in 2016. She now works as a senior insurance contributor, providing insights and data a…

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Beth joined The Zebra in 2022 as an Associate Content Strategist. She is a licensed insurance agent whose goal is to make insurance content easy to r…

Natural disasters and their impact on car insurance

 

Comprehensive coverage protects your car from damage caused by natural disasters and "Acts of God" such as riots, theft and vandalism, as long as you carry the coverage before the damage occurs. This coverage is designed to cover a vehicle in the case of events occurring outside the control of the driver. Let’s explore the primary threats covered by comprehensive car insurance coverage, and some key concepts to keep in mind.

weather

Does car insurance cover flooding?

 

Flood damage presents serious concerns for car owners —  but you can stay covered by continuously carrying comprehensive coverage. With flood damage and car insurance, timing is everything. Insurance companies may enact binding restrictions on any new or existing policy once a flood threat has been indicated. Ensure you have comprehensive coverage prior to a forecasted flood. If a natural disaster is scheduled to hit your area and a binding restriction is in place, you will not be able to add comprehensive coverage to your policy.


Does car insurance protect against wildfires?

 

Motorists only receive coverage against damage caused by forest fires and wildfires if they maintain comprehensive coverage. As with floods, timing is important: most insurance companies will enact binding restrictions if there is a wildfire in the area.

forest fire

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Does car insurance protect against hurricanes?

 

You do not need an additional coverage option to protect your car against hurricane damage — it remains covered by comprehensive coverage. Just like flood and fire coverage, ensure you carry this prior to a storm warning being issued or a binding restriction being placed on policy additions.


Does car insurance cover earthquakes?

 

Although you will need a separate policy to protect your dwelling in the event of an earthquake, a vehicle will be covered via a comprehensive auto insurance policy. Be sure you have this coverage before your vehicle is damaged or risk having your coverage denied.


Does car insurance cover hail damage?

 

Regardless of the amount of damage your vehicle sustains, comprehensive coverage will repay your losses after a hail storm. Depending on the nature of your car ownership, whether or not you need to file a claim for the damage may already be decided for you.

If you’re unsure if you should file a claim, read more about car insurance after a hail storm.

snow hail windshield

Why I can't get car insurance right before a natural disaster?

 

Most insurance companies issue a moratorium on issuing or binding new policies when a disaster is expected. This typically applies to both home and auto insurance policies. The reason is simple: insurance is meant to protect you in case of an unforeseen event such as a car accident or hitting a deer.

While many natural disasters happen unexpectedly, some events come with advanced warnings. Hurricanes, for example, can typically be forecast many days in advance — though their trajectories can change rapidly. Flooding is another example of a consequence of hurricanes or large amounts of rain, which is why FEMA mandates that a flood insurance policy must be in place for a certain amount of days before it will cover any losses. 

Even if you live in an area that is not in immediate danger, these moratoriums are often state-wide.

Why insurers won't bind policies during a natural disaster

If large amounts of customers waited to get coverage until damage was a near certainty — or actively happening — insurers would end up paying out far more for losses than they have brought in through premiums.

Even with these moratoriums in place, natural disasters such as Hurricane Andrew have put enormous strain on insurance companies, even bankrupting some.[1]


Riots, theft and more: what else is covered by an "Acts of God" car insurance clause?

 

"Acts of God" refer to damages caused by circumstances of the control of the driver. In addition to natural disasters, this includes:

  • Sinkholes
  • Riots and civil unrest
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Landslides
  • Mudslides
  • Volcanoes

Comprehensive coverage acts as a catch-all for anything left uncovered by collision or liability insurance. This includes damages incurred during riots or civil unrest.

How much does "Acts of God" insurance coverage cost?

 

It depends. Because comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle, expensive vehicles cost more to insure. Our analysis used a generic user profile, driving a 2013 Honda Accord to gauge how much insurance providers across the US charge to add comprehensive coverage. See the information in the tables below to get an estimate of what the average cost for full coverage insurance, either with a $500 deductible or a $1,000 deductible, might cost. 

money
Average Rates for Full Coverage with a $500 Deductible
Company Avg. Annual Premium
USAA $1,365
Nationwide $1,476
GEICO $1,542
State Farm $1,569
Farmers $1,786
Progressive $1,886
Allstate $2,413
Average Rates for Full Coverage with a $1,000 Deductible
Company Avg. Annual Premium
USAA $1,189
Nationwide $1,343
GEICO $1,348
State Farm $1,457
Farmers $1,616
Progressive $1,668
Allstate $2,118

For qualifying drivers, USAA is the cheapest insurance company for this coverage. Nationwide is another affordable option.

The Zebra’s Dynamic Insurance Rating Tool data methodology — auto insurance

The auto insurance rates displayed throughout this page come from The Zebra’s Dynamic Insurance Rating Tool, a proprietary insurance premium estimator that uses the most recent rate filings across the United States at the ZIP code level to provide up-to-date rate data. Most insurance companies file car insurance rates one to two times a year. This data comes from Quadrant Information Services, which sources the latest approved rate filings across carriers in each state from S&P Global. Quadrant then uses an internal QA process to validate the information and build reports before the data is programmed into The Zebra’s dynamic rating tool.

Rates are based on a sample driver profile — a 30-year-old single male driver with a Honda Accord and full coverage at these levels:

  • $50,000 per person/$100,000 per incident for bodily injury liability
  • $50,000 per incident for property damage liability
  • $500 deductibles for collision and comprehensive coverage

To provide insight to consumers on how specific personal factors (like age, location and coverage level) can affect your premium, this base profile is then adjusted for different factors commonly used by insurance companies. For more information, see our full data methodology.


Do you need comprehensive coverage?

 

Comprehensive coverage isn't cheap, so audit your situation and make an informed decision about its necessity. Luckily, car insurance quotes are free so you can quickly decide which company offers you the best value. Do you want to pay the premium necessary to receive compensation if your vehicle is damaged or totaled by a weather event? This can be tricky to answer. Follow our steps below to see if you need this coverage.

fast car
Is your vehicle worth enough to justify comprehensive coverage?

If your vehicle is worth less than $4,000, your insurance agent might advise you to drop this coverage. In this case, comprehensive coverage would yield a very small payout in the case of a total loss.

question magnifying glass
Are you leasing or financing the vehicle?

If you are, you’re required to carry this coverage in order for the other party — the lender or dealership — to protect their investment.

money key
Are you going to resell your vehicle?

If you’re not leasing or financing but are planning on selling your vehicle in the future, comprehensive and collision coverage are great ways to maintain the vehicle’s resale value.


Filing a claim for an "Act of God": Will your rate increase?

 

Because the damage is generally outside the control of the driver, you will not be penalized as much after you file a claim as you would for an at-fault accident. Our State of Insurance analysis showed insurance rates rise by an average of 7% after not-at-fault accidents. Look at the table below to see how rates can change based on zero, one, or even two comprehensive auto insurance claims. 

Accident/Violation Avg. Monthly Premium Avg. Annual Premium
None $147 $1,759
One comp claim $154 $1,849
Two comp claims $161 $1,936

The above data is broken down over a maximum of three years — that is how long most insurance companies will keep a violation on your premium. The next area you should think about in terms of a rate increase is what is known as a rate revision.

Most insurance companies undertake rate revisions once each year. An insurer takes this opportunity to review the previous year’s loss records, using that data to price their premiums in the future. For years with significant losses, i.e., following a costly natural disaster, insurance companies may raise premiums to balance their books.

While all insurers revise rates from time to time, the percentage by which they raise premiums isn't always the same. If you’ve experienced a significant rate increase at the end of your policy or even after filing a comprehensive claim, consider that a good opportunity to shop around for car insurance. Enter your zip code below to see how much you could be saving.

Find the best comprehensive coverage for your needs today!

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Natural disasters and insurance: additional considerations and resources

 

As long as you have comprehensive coverage prior to a storm warning or damage occurring, you will have coverage against natural disasters. Given these types of unexpected events can occur at any time, it’s a good idea to keep your comprehensive coverage on your vehicle at all times if you live in an area prone to "Acts of God."




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About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance editorial content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
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  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.