Does Car Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?

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Natural disasters, like tornadoes, wildfires, and tropical storms, can occur in any state and seriously damage your property. These events can cause all types of damage to your vehicle, including car flooding, fire damage, and mechanical and electrical issues.

Comprehensive car insurance — an optional coverage typically included in a full-coverage policy — can pay for damage caused by natural disasters. Making sure you have the right auto policy coverage in place before something happens can provide peace of mind and financial stability.

Keep reading to learn how and when a car insurance policy covers natural disasters, how to file a claim if one damages your car, and optional coverages to consider.

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Does Car Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?

Large tree crashed on top of car

Comprehensive insurance can pay for vehicle repairs or replacement if a natural disaster damages your vehicle. It’s crucial to have this insurance since it covers what collision coverage doesn’t (more on that later). But you must also have this coverage in place before a natural disaster happens, or your insurance won’t cover the damages.

Keep in mind that comprehensive coverage is optional — unless you lease or finance your car and your lender requires it. Comprehensive coverage pays up to your vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV) minus your coverage deductible if a storm or accident damages your car. You can choose your comprehensive deductible — the higher your deductible, the cheaper your premium.

Besides natural disasters, comprehensive covers damage from:

  • Animals or rodents
  • Fires
  • Vandalism or riots
  • Broken windows and windshields
  • Vehicle or parts theft (Your home insurance — not comprehensive coverage — covers personal belongings not permanently attached to the car)

A natural disaster is also known as an “act of God,” and it’s important to understand what that means and why it matters. We’ll explain this in more detail in the next section.

How and When Car Insurance Covers Acts of God

An “act of God” is an event that occurs suddenly, unexpectedly, and is outside human control. For example, landslides, tornadoes, mudslides, and hurricanes are “acts of God” that people can’t prevent or control. Insurance companies typically cover these events, but only if you have comprehensive coverage.

If a major storm is heading for your area, insurers might place a temporary restriction on policy changes or new policy purchases, so it’s crucial to have the right insurance coverage in place before the storm hits.

Here are some examples of natural disasters and where comprehensive insurance can help.


Nearly 75% of the country is in earthquake territory, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Earthquakes are unpredictable and most common in Alaska, California, Hawaii, and Atlantic Coast states.

Comprehensive coverage can pay to repair or replace your car if an earthquake damages your vehicle.


Flood waters can wreak havoc on vehicles, especially if water damages your car’s electrical components. Although coastal areas are particularly susceptible, a flash flood can occur anywhere, especially if you’ve had long bouts of heavy rain.

Comprehensive insurance can cover flood damage, whether your vehicle has minor damage or the flood totaled your vehicle.


Though mainly on the West Coast, wildfires can occur anywhere with the right conditions, and they can spread shockingly fast. If your car is on the path of a wildfire and you can’t move it, chances are the fire will total it. Having comprehensive coverage can help pay for a new car.


Hurricanes bring not only rain but also strong winds, which can lead to damage from falling objects and flying tree branches. A comprehensive policy can pay for your car’s damage or replace your vehicle if the hurricane totals it.


Smaller hailstones may not cause much damage to your vehicle, but the right conditions can produce large hail balls. Large hail traveling at fast speeds can leave dents, break or crack windows, and damage your car’s paint. No matter the level of hail damage, comprehensive coverage can pay to fix the damage.

When Car Insurance Won’t Cover Natural Disasters

Understanding how your car insurance policy works can prevent unhappy surprises later if you think your policy covers you when it really doesn’t. For example, almost every state requires you to have liability insurance, but that alone won’t cover things like natural disasters. That’s because liability insurance covers only injuries or property damage you cause to others in a car accident.

Both collision and comprehensive insurance are types of physical damage coverage, but they cover you in different scenarios. It’s a good idea to purchase both — but your policy will only cover up to your car’s fair market value. Your insurer may also deduct any costs related to existing damage and won’t pay your deductible, even if it declares your car totaled.

Even with the right coverage, your insurer may have some policy exclusions and may refuse to cover a claim. For instance, if you damaged your vehicle in an unrelated accident and tried to blame it on a natural disaster, your insurer wouldn’t cover it. Failing to file your claim immediately can also prevent your insurer from properly investigating your claim, increasing your chances of a claim denial.

That said, if a major storm is coming your way, and you realize you don’t have comprehensive coverage, it might be too late. A natural disaster can happen any time of the year, so it’s a good idea to have comprehensive coverage year-round.

How Much Does Comprehensive Insurance Cost?

Car damaged by snow storm

The average cost of comprehensive insurance is $174 per month, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). But the price in your state can vary by factors like the cost and frequency of comprehensive claims, car repair costs, and theft rates.

Let’s take a look at how the average comprehensive premium varies by state.


State Average Comprehensive Premium
Alabama $186
Alaska $156
Arizona $209
Arkansas $245
California $97
Colorado $312
Connecticut $139
Delaware $140
Florida $224
Georgia $156
Hawaii $183
Idaho $107
Illinois $145
Indiana $147
Iowa $140
Kansas $231
Kentucky $283
Louisiana $169
Maine $254
Maryland $123
Massachusetts $171
Michigan $150
Minnesota $168
Mississippi $217
Missouri $246
Montana $223
Nebraska $310
Nevada $269
New Hampshire $116
New Jersey $122
New Mexico $132
New York $220
North Carolina $177
North Dakota $155
Ohio $260
Oklahoma $134
Oregon $268
Pennsylvania $109
Rhode Island $174
South Carolina $149
South Dakota $217
Tennessee $353
Texas $173
Utah $279
Vermont $126
Virginia $155
Washington $149
Washington, D.C. $121
West Virginia $227
Wisconsin $170
Wyoming $352
National average $174

Idaho and California are the cheapest states for a comprehensive policy, while Tennessee and Wyoming are the most expensive. The cheaper states may have fewer natural disasters and fewer comprehensive claims, which can contribute to less expensive comprehensive coverage premiums.

That said, comparing auto insurance quotes can ensure you get the best rate and coverage for various situations.

How to File an Insurance Claim After a Natural Disaster

Catastrophic events like natural disasters typically affect a large area, which can delay the claims process. It’s important to check if your insurer has a catastrophe claims process before an event happens.

No matter the situation, it’s important to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible.

Here are the steps to file an auto insurance claim:

  1. Document the damage. When it’s safe, take photos or videos of your vehicle damage. Also, note the location and type of natural disaster — you’ll need this information to file the claim.
  2. File the claim. Many insurers offer multiple filing methods, including in person, online, over the phone, or by mobile app. Choose your preferred method and start the claims process.
  3. Work with the insurance adjuster. The claims adjuster assigned to your case will go over the damage, review your specific insurance policy, and ask follow-up questions before finalizing the claims payout. This part of the process can take some time, especially if there are many claims in your area.
  4. Settle the claim. The insurance company will either pay to fix your car or provide a settlement payout if the natural disaster totaled your vehicle.

Keep track of your claim to ensure you respond to the claims team promptly to move your case along smoothly and avoid delays. Many insurers offer push notifications, email tracking, and the option to track your claim online so you always know where you are in the process.

Other Coverage Options to Consider

Cars in a flooded road during a hurricane

Comprehensive coverage is a great way to protect against natural calamities like tornadoes, lightning strikes, and water damage. But it’s not the only coverage option that can provide additional protection.

Some other optional coverages that might make sense include:

  • Collision insurance: Collision covers your vehicle if you cause an accident — like hitting another car or a pole in the parking lot, for example — no matter who’s at fault.
  • Gap insurance: If you take out an auto loan or lease your vehicle and you total it or someone steals it, gap insurance covers the difference between its value and your remaining loan or lease balance.
  • New-car replacement insurance: New-car owners should consider new-car replacement coverage, which pays for the value of a new model year of the same vehicle if you total your car.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: Around one in eight drivers don’t have insurance, and many more may not have enough liability coverage to pay for your injuries or vehicle damage after an accident. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can pay when the other driver doesn’t have any or enough auto insurance coverage.

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FAQs About Car Insurance and Natural Disasters

Understanding how your car insurance works before a natural disaster hits can ensure your policy adequately covers you. Here are answers to the most common questions about auto insurance and natural disasters.

What happens if a natural disaster destroys your car?

If a natural disaster destroys your car, your insurer will consider your vehicle totaled.

It’ll pay your vehicle’s value minus your deductible if you have comprehensive insurance. But if you have liability-only insurance, there’s no coverage, so you’ll pay the cost out of pocket.

Does full-coverage insurance cover natural disasters?

It depends. “Full coverage” doesn’t have a standardized meaning in the auto insurance world. When it includes comprehensive coverage — which it usually does — it covers natural disasters. It’s a good idea to check your policy to ensure you have storm damage coverage before inclement weather happens in your area.

Does collision insurance cover natural disasters?

No. Collision coverage pays for property damage from hitting another object or car or a single-vehicle rollover accident. Only comprehensive car insurance covers your vehicle for damage from a natural disaster.

Does your insurance go up after a natural disaster claim?

It’s possible. Any claim you file — including natural disaster claims — can affect your insurance rates. When renewing your auto insurance policy, insurers look at multiple factors when adjusting rates. Where you live in the country, and the frequency and severity of claims in your area are some of the factors that can affect your renewal rate.


Data scientists at analyzed more than 50 million real-time auto insurance rates from more than 75 partner insurance providers in order to compile the quotes and statistics seen in this article.’s auto insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers’ vehicles, driving records, insurance histories, and demographic information.

All the quotes listed in this article have been gathered from a combination of real quotes and external insurance rate data gathered in collaboration with Quadrant Information Services. uses these observations to provide drivers with insight into how auto insurance companies determine their premiums.


  1. Insurance Information Institute, “What is covered by collision and comprehensive auto insurance?,” Accessed April 26, 2024.
  2. Insurance Research Council, “One in Eight Drivers Uninsured,” Accessed April 26, 2024.
  3. National Association of Insurance Commissioners, “2019/2020 Auto Insurance Database Report,” Accessed April 26, 2024.
  4. United States Geological Survey, “New USGS map shows where damaging earthquakes are most likely to occur in the US,” Accessed April 26, 2024.

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