Does Car Insurance Cover Earthquake Damage?
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.
What is comprehensive coverage?
- 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.
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.
Dynamic auto insurance data methodology
Methodology: The auto insurance rates displayed above and throughout this page are dynamic, meaning the data will refresh when the most recent information is made available. Rates are based on a sample driver profile — a 30-year-old single male driver with a Honda Accord and full coverage. This profile was adjusted based on common pricing factors used by major car insurance companies, like age, coverage level, driving record and others.
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.
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.
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|
|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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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.
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