Does Car Insurance Cover Damage from Natural Disasters?

Comprehensive insurance covers damages resulting from natural disasters and other “Acts of God”—but timing matters. Sign up in advance of an impending storm.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
If you have comprehensive car insurance, your car will most likely be covered if it is damaged during a natural disaster.
Not sure if your policy protects you from damages due to natural disasters? The
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Read on to learn more about obtaining the proper coverage for natural disasters.
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Comprehensive auto insurance coverage

liability insurance
collision insurance
provide coverage for automobile accidents, they do not protect you from the costs associated with storm-related damage.
If you live in a storm-prone area or simply want to secure your vehicle from circumstances outside of your control, you should explore adding
comprehensive insurance
coverage to your policy.

What does comprehensive auto insurance cover?

Comprehensive auto insurance covers losses resulting from circumstances other than collisions. This type of coverage is meant to protect your automobile from "
Acts of God
" or incidents that are outside of your control, such as natural disasters,
car theft
, and
What your comprehensive insurance will cover depends on the specifics of your policy, the type of damage sustained, and the source of the damage.
In the event of a natural disaster, you’ll be reimbursed for only those damages to your vehicle that can be directly attributed to the storm.
Your insurance is unlikely to cover losses resulting from storm-related accidents or medical or legal expenses. So if someone hits your car during the downpour from a hurricane, you would need to rely on your liability and collision insurance to defray your out-of-pocket expenses.

Do you need comprehensive coverage?

Because comprehensive coverage can be costly, whether you need it depends on two factors:
  • How valuable is your vehicle? If you own an older vehicle worth less than $5,000, it might not be worthwhile for you to pay for comprehensive insurance. Weigh the costs of the insurance premiums against the value of your automobile. If your car is worth enough and you’re hoping to protect its resale value, then comprehensive coverage is likely a good investment.
  • Are you leasing or financing your vehicle? If you’re leasing or financing a vehicle, your lender might require you to hold a comprehensive insurance policy to protect them from losses due to fire, water, falling objects, and other storm-related hazards.
Key Takeaway Comprehensive auto insurance protects you from non-collision-related damages resulting from circumstances outside of your control, such as natural disasters and other "Acts of God."

Storm-specific coverage

Comprehensive insurance covers losses resulting from natural disasters, including hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, sinkholes, landslides, mudslides, volcanoes, and more.
The key is that the damage has to be directly attributable to what’s known as a "covered peril"—a specific storm-related event identified by your insurer—for it to be covered by your comprehensive insurance. Always check the specifics of your policy to understand the types of damage covered by your plan.
Even more important is your timing in obtaining comprehensive insurance. Because most insurers will institute a "binding restriction" once a storm has been announced, it’s crucial to sign up for comprehensive coverage well in advance of a threat.
  • Hurricanes: Hurricanes and tropical storms can wreak havoc on vehicles, especially ones that are parked outside a garage. Comprehensive coverage protects you from damages resulting from debris (e.g., unsecured objects and fallen trees/tree branches), hail, wind, and water exposure.
  • Tornadoes: Tornadoes can occur with little warning, leaving significant damage in their wake. Comprehensive insurance will cover losses resulting from debris, lightning, glass damage, water damage, and more.
  • Floods: Comprehensive coverage insures you against flood damage to your vehicle. Water damage caused by a flood is often substantial—enough for the insurer to deem your vehicle a total loss. Note that floods can occur even in locations that aren’t in flood zones.
  • Earthquakes: Earthquakes can damage or completely destroy vehicles, but a comprehensive insurance policy will protect you against damages resulting from falling debris, broken glass, fire, explosions, and other earthquake-related issues.
  • Wildfires: According to the
    Insurance Information Institute
    , there were 58,950 wildfires in 2020—and the number seems to be increasing every year. Most comprehensive insurance policies provide coverage for vehicle damage resulting from wildfires. If you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, review the specifics of your policy in case your insurer has placed restrictions on this type of damage due to your location.
Key Takeaway Obtain comprehensive coverage well in advance of any natural disaster so that you’re not restricted from signing up once a storm is predicted.

Deductibles and coverage limits

Unless you have a deductible-free plan, your comprehensive insurance policy will require you to pay a deductible before insurance begins to cover your losses. The amount of your deductible will depend on your individual policy, but it will generally range from $500 to $2,000. Typically, the higher your insurance premium, the lower your deductible.
In addition to the deductible, it’s important to be aware of your policy’s comprehensive coverage limit, which is the maximum amount your insurer will pay toward a claim. Oftentimes the coverage limit is equivalent to the cash value of your automobile.
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Frequently asked questions

Is there a deductible for natural disasters?

If you file a claim for damages resulting from a natural disaster, you will have to pay the deductible before receiving financial assistance from your insurance company—unless you happen to have a deductible-free comprehensive policy.

Does car insurance cover natural disasters or bad weather?

collision insurance
liability insurance
will not cover bad weather,
comprehensive car insurance
does cover vehicle damage resulting from "weather-related events."
This optional addition to your insurance policy will protect you if your vehicle experiences water, wind, fire, or falling object damage during a storm.

Can I increase my coverage once a major storm has been announced?

Most insurance providers have "binding restrictions" that prevent you from adding comprehensive insurance or changing your policy once a major storm is predicted. Make sure to obtain the coverage you need well before you have to use it.
’s AI-powered insurance comparison tool help you find the best comprehensive coverage available from one of the top 55 insurance companies.

When should I file my claim after a natural disaster?

You should file your claim immediately after a natural disaster. Because many policyholders in your area will likely be experiencing similar issues and filing claims at the same time, your insurance provider could experience delays in the claims process.
The sooner you file your claim, the sooner your insurer can help you address your damages.
Note, too, that most policies require you to file your claim within one year of the disaster.
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