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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
Updated: 10/04/22.
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
Updated: 10/04/22.

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.

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.

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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.

If your coverage is just right but you're worried about premiums, consider raising your deductible - which inversely lowers your rate.


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
Updated: 10/04/22.

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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RECENT QUESTIONS

How will my rate be impacted by opening a comprehensive claim? How is fault decided?

If it is considered comprehensive, there would be no fault on the claim so you can take that out of the equation. Comprehensive claims are best summed up as your responsibility but not your fault.
Jan 15, 2020 Seattle, WA

If I hit an object in the road, can I claim this under my comprehensive coverage?

Insurance companies consider hitting an object in the road to be an accident. Unfortunately, that means you will need to use your collision coverage, the incident will be considered your fault, and you'll likely see an increase in premium.
Nov 23, 2016 Winston-Salem, NC

Does State Farm cover rodent damage to my car's electrical wiring through comprehensive coverage?

While I can't speak specifically for State Farm, most companies will cover damage caused by a rodent under comprehensive coverage. For specifics about your State Farm policy, you will want to contact them directly.
Jun 11, 2019 Brewster, NY

Does my comprehensive claim affect my car insurance?

This type of claim would actually be considered a collision claim. Although to answer your original question, a comprehensive claim wouldn't have as much of an effect on your premium as a collision claim would.
Apr 13, 2018 Columbus, Ohio

Ava Lynch photo
Ava LynchSenior Analyst

Ava joined The Zebra as a writer and licensed insurance agent in 2016. She now works as a senior analyst, providing insights and data analysis as one of The Zebra's property and casualty insurance experts.

Ava’s insurance career began as an agent with Farmers Insurance. Over the years, she has become an authority in all things property and casualty insurance, helping her to write informative guides for shoppers.

Ava’s work has been cited in publications such as InvestopediaThe BalanceMoney.comLiberty Mutual, U.S. News & World Report, GasBuddy, Car and Driver and Yahoo! Finance.

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 content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • 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.