Does Car Insurance Cover Wildfires?

If your car is burned in a forest fire, your insurance should foot the bill — as long as you have comprehensive coverage.
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Does car insurance cover fire damage?

 

Yes — with a few exceptions. If you inhabit a wildfire-prone area, you should check your policy details to confirm fire damage is not a restricted coverage option. While “fire” is generally covered by comprehensive insurance, it's worth double-checking to ensure your insurance company doesn’t put any restrictions on wildfires based on your location.

forest fire

Key Takeaways:

  • Fire coverage falls under comprehensive coverage - so if you only carry liability insurance, your vehicle would not be covered
  • Timing is important - if a wildfire is imminent, insurance companies may have a binding restriction in place
  • Comprehensive coverage is especially wise to have if you have an expensive vehicle, an auto loan or are leasing the car
  • Rates won't increase as much for comprehensive claims as they would for at-fault accidents, but be prepared for higher rates

Does car insurance cover forest fires?

 

If your vehicle is totaled or damaged by a wildfire, you should receive an insurance payout, as long as you have comprehensive coverage. This coverage — usually bundled with collision insurance — is designed to protect your vehicle against damage caused by an incident other than a collision. There are some caveats to this coverage, which may be company-specific.

The next exception concerns timing. As long as you carry comprehensive coverage prior to the fire, you will have coverage. Most insurance companies will enact a binding restriction in any area in which a forest fire is imminent. A binding restriction limits changes to existing policies — like adding fire protection — or opening any new lines of business. will restrict changes to existing policies (such as adding fire protection coverage) or adding any new lines of business. Insurance companies take this step to reduce their exposure to expensive claim payouts.

 
What is comprehensive auto coverage?

Comprehensive car insurance coverage is designed to fill in the gaps in collision coverage. While comprehensive doesn't offer recourse when your car collides with another vehicle, it covers the following:

  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Hail/lightning
  • Damage caused by weather
  • Damage caused by "Acts of God"

Your coverage for natural disasters — sometimes referred to as an Act of God Clause — provides protection against wildfire-related damages. Make sure your policy is free of stipulations that would exclude wildfire protection.


How much does fire car insurance coverage cost?

 

The amount you pay for comprehensive coverage depends on how much your vehicle is worth. The more expensive your vehicle, the more expensive it will be for your insurance company to replace it, thus resulting in more expensive premiums. Below are the national average comprehensive coverage costs based on our sample driver profile with a Honda Accord.

piggy bank
Company Avg. Monthly Premium Avg. Annual Premium
Travelers $112 $1,342
USAA $114 $1,365
Nationwide $123 $1,476
GEICO $129 $1,542
American Family $131 $1,568
State Farm $131 $1,569
Farmers $149 $1,786
Progressive $157 $1,882
Allstate $201 $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.

Given our user profile, Travelers and USAA are the cheapest options for comprehensive coverage, insuring against forest fire damages. Use this data when beginning the process of shopping for car insurance. Just remember that for a better estimate, you should compare rates based on your unique driving profile.

Comparing liability coverage and "full coverage," paints a picture of how much comprehensive coverage may impact your premium.

Coverage Avg. Annual Premium
Liability Only $597
Full Coverage with $1,000 Deductible $1,554
Full Coverage with $500 Deductible $1,760

On average, adding comprehensive and collision coverage from a liability-only policy will increase your premium 112% per year. Considering this expense, let's look a little deeper at when comprehensive coverage is actually necessary.


Do you need comprehensive coverage?

 

Car insurance that covers wildfire damage can be expensive, but there are scenarios in which carrying comprehensive coverage is wise.

 
  1. If you have a loan on your vehicle: because someone else technically owns your vehicle (usually a bank or financing company), you’re required to protect their investment through comprehensive coverage.
  2. If you’re leasing a vehicle: a lease is essentially a long-term rental, and you'll need to return the car in near-perfect condition. You should carry comprehensive coverage to satisfy your lease agreements.
  3. If your vehicle is valuable: if you own your vehicle but it still has considerable worth, you should keep this coverage. As a general rule, if your vehicle is worth more than $4,000, you should have comprehensive coverage.

Because wildfires are often total loss scenarios, it's important to evaluate your coverage needs well before one occurs. Your auto insurance will be your main source of protection and reimbursement after fire-related vehicle damages.

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Will fire damage raise your auto insurance premium?

 

A claim for fire damage will result in a premium increase. But the financial repercussions will be much less significant than a liability or collision claim. See below the average rate increases after zero, one, and two comprehensive 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

While a collision claim can raise your rates an average of $611 per year, the rate penalty after a comprehensive claim hovers around $90 per year. This is because collision claims are generally seen as the result of the driver and thus deemed at-fault accidents. Damage caused by fire is typically outside of the control of a driver.

Another way your premium can rise after a fire claim is via a rate revision. Rate revisions are common and occur every year. Simply put, insurance companies will review their losses from the previous year to determine if they need to raise or lower premiums to stay profitable. In the event of a wildfire, which may affect a large number of clients and result in significant claims payouts, an insurance company could raise premiums to recoup its losses.

An insurance rate increase after a fire claim will usually be significantly less expensive than paying for the damage out-of-pocket. If your insurance company does raise rates substantially, consider it a good excuse to shop for a new policy.

Compare rates and find the best comprehensive auto insurance for your needs.

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