Does Car Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?

From hail to flooding, comprehensive car insurance coverage protects against natural disaster damage.

Natural disasters and car insurance


Comprehensive coverage protects your car from damage caused by natural disasters, as long as you carry the coverage well before the damage occurs. This coverage is designed to cover your vehicle against "acts of God" — events occurring outside the control of the driver. Let’s explore the primary threats covered by comprehensive car insurance coverage, and some key ideas to keep in mind.


Car insurance coverage for natural disasters
  1. Flood
  2. Wildfire
  3. Hurricane
  4. Earthquake
  5. Hail
  6. Additional considerations



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.

See our guide to car insurance and floods.




Does car insurance protect against wildfire damage?


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.

Learn more about wildfires and car insurance.




Comprehensive coverage and 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.

Find out more about car insurance coverage for hurricanes.




Earthquakes and car insurance


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.

Learn more about earthquakes and car insurance coverage.




Car insurance and 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, consult our guide to car insurance after a hail storm.




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
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Landslides
  • Mudslides
  • Volcanoes

Comprehensive coverage acts as a catch-all for anything left uncovered by collision or liability insurance.




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.


Insurer Average Annual Premium
Nationwide $1,273
Allstate $1,902
Farmers $1,237
GEICO $1,091
Liberty Mutual $1,520
Progressive $1,793
USAA $967
State Farm $1,769

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




Do you need comprehensive coverage?


Comprehensive coverage isn't cheap, so audit your situation and make an informed decision about its necessity. 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.


1. 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.


2. Are you leasing or financing the vehicle?

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


3. 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.


Year After Accident Average Annual Premium
No Accident $1,427
1 Year Later $1,525
2 Years Later $1,623
3 Years Later $1,721

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 comprehensive coverage today!



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."

Car insurance for natural disasters: Are you covered?




Methodology


Between September and December 2017, The Zebra conducted comprehensive auto insurance pricing analysis using its proprietary quote engine, comprising data from insurance rating platforms and public rate filings. The Zebra examined nearly 53 million rates to explore trends for specific auto insurance rating factors across all United States zip codes, averaged by state, including Washington, DC.

Analysis used a consistent base profile for the insured driver: a 30-year-old single male driving a 2013 Honda Accord EX with a good driving history and coverage limits of $50,000 bodily injury liability per person/$100,000 bodily injury liability per accident/$50,000 property damage liability per accident with a $500 deductible for comprehensive and collision. For coverage level data, optional coverage (that must be rejected in writing) is included where applicable, including uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection.

National property and casualty losses information is from the Insurance Information Institute and the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters report.

For vehicle make and model data, analysis referenced the most popular vehicles in the U.S. by 2016 year-end sales according to Goodcarbadcar.net’s automakers’ data.

Finally, some rate data may vary slightly throughout report based on rounding.