Does Car Insurance Cover Earthquake Damage?

Get comprehensive coverage to ensure your car is covered in the event of an earthquake.
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Ava Lynch

Insurance Analyst

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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 Swanson

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Car insurance and earthquake damage

 

Car insurance covers damages caused by earthquakes — as long as the vehicle carries comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage fills the gaps left by collision coverage, protecting your vehicle from weather events and natural disasters. What exactly it covers, how much it costs, and whether or not it’s required are topics covered in the following analysis of car insurance after an earthquake.

Key Takeaways:
  • In general, if you have comprehensive auto coverage your vehicle will be covered in the event of hurricane damage
  • Comprehensive also covers things such as vandalism, animal damage or other weather-related claims
  • As a rule of thumb, if your vehicle is worth less than $4,000 you may not need comprehensive coverage
  • Rates will usually increase after comprehensive claims, but less than if you had an at-fault accident or collision claim

What is comprehensive coverage?

 

Comprehensive coverage shields a vehicle from damage caused by events other than a collision. This includes the following:

  • Hail/lightning
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Damage caused by animals
  • Weather-related incidents
 

Earthquake damage coverage is included in the "weather-related incidents" bucket. Unless your policy has a unique stipulation, this coverage should be consistent across all major car insurance companies, in every US state. If you move from Texas to California, where earthquakes occur more often, you would maintain earthquake coverage from your comprehensive insurance.

auto insurance

If a natural disaster is imminent, insurance companies may put a binding restriction on new and existing policies. In order to cut down on claims payouts, insurers restrict new lines of business or modifications to existing policies during these periods. This will keep you from adding comprehensive coverage in the days or hours immediately preceding a natural disaster. This is more often the case for wildfires, hurricanes, and floods, it can apply to any natural disaster, at an insurer's discretion.


How much does comprehensive coverage cost? Breakdown by insurance provider

 

The cost of comprehensive coverage depends on the value of the insured vehicle. Unlike liability coverage (bodily injury and property damage), an insurance company is forced to pay for damages to the covered vehicle in the case of a claim. If it costs more for an insurance company to replace a vehicle, they will bump up premium costs.

To shed some light on comprehensive coverage rates, we created a generic profile for a 2012 Honda Accord with comprehensive and collision, evaluating some top insurance companies.

Average Full Coverage Rates with $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
Average Full Coverage Rates with $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

The Zebra’s Dynamic Insurance Rating Tool data methodology

The Zebra’s Dynamic Insurance Rating Tool for home and auto insurance rates utilizes the latest ZIP code-level rate filings from across the U.S., sourced from Quadrant Information Services and S&P Global. These filings, typically updated annually or biennially by insurers, are verified through Quadrant’s QA process and then integrated into The Zebra’s estimator.

The displayed rates are based on a dynamic home and auto profile designed to reflect the content of the page. This profile is tailored to match specific factors such as age, location, and coverage level, which are adjusted based on the page content to show how these variables can impact premiums.

For a comprehensive understanding, see our detailed methodology.

USAA and Nationwide offer the cheapest comprehensive coverage. We explored further by assessing insurance premiums by company at various coverage levels.

Considering these coverages will double your premium, it's worth weighing their necessity, based on the value of your vehicle.

piggy bank

Do you need comprehensive insurance?

 

Given the price of comprehensive coverage, it’s important to determine if you really need this coverage. As a general rule of thumb, if your vehicle is worth less than $4,000, you need not carry collision and comprehensive coverage. Use multiple sources to determine the value of your vehicle. Kelley Blue Book and NADA online are good places to start.

If you need to keep coverage on your vehicle but are worried about premium costs, consider changing your deductible(s). By raising your deductibles, you lower your premium — the two figures are inversely related.


Is your car covered by a renters or homeowners policy?

 

It would be nice if either renters or homeowners insurance policies extended to cover cars during an earthquake. Unfortunately, renters and homeowners policies do not cover vehicles against earthquake damage.

 

Earthquakes are excluded from homeowners and renters insurance policies because of how catastrophic the claims losses can be. Much like floods, earthquakes tend to result in total losses for home and renters policies, and are deemed too risky for a standard policy. However, if you’re in an earthquake-prone area, you can purchase an earthquake endorsement or separate earthquake insurance policy entirely.

In California, for example, most earthquake policies are backed by the California Earthquake Authority. While this is separate from a homeowners or renters policy, they can be linked.

home and auto bundle

Does earthquake damage affect car insurance rates?

 

Although it won’t be as significant as a collision or liability claim, filing a claim after an earthquake will raise your rates. On average, this claim will raise your auto insurance rates by $90 per year — or about $7 per month.

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

An insurance company will typically add this additional increase to your policy for three years after a claim. However, you might receive a bigger rate increase from a rate revision. A rate revision occurs when an insurance company reviews its losses from the previous year to determine if they need to raise or lower its premiums in the future to remain profitable. If a year has included particularly large claims payouts — which can happen after natural disasters — insurers will raise rates to make up for their losses.

While rate revisions are common among major insurance companies, the amount each insurer charges may vary. If your rate jumps considerably after an accident or weather event, take the opportunity to shop around for a new, more affordable, policy. Enter your zip code below to see how much you could be saving.

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Compare rates and start saving today.

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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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