Does Car Insurance Cover Natural Disasters
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When a natural disaster strikes, the damage can be devastating. As you take inventory of damages in the aftermath, you might find your vehicle was a victim of the circumstances.
Naturally, your thoughts jump to how you will pay for the unexpected expense of repairing or replacing your vehicle. Depending on your situation, your car insurance policy might cover the damage to your vehicle. But that’s not always the case.
Let’s take a closer look at what types of car insurance safeguard provide coverage in the event of a natural disaster.
Does Car Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?
In some cases, car insurance will cover the damage inflicted by natural disasters. But in other cases, your car insurance won’t be stepping in to pick up the tab.
If you are facing damage to your vehicle from a natural disaster, check out your insurance policy to see what’s covered.
What Type of Car Insurance Doesn’t Cover Natural Disasters?
Let’s start with the type of car insurance that doesn’t provide coverage in the event of a natural disaster.
Specifically, liability insurance policies do not cover damages that occur to your vehicle. This is a basic form of coverage that only pays for damages done to the other vehicle and/or person involved in an accident.
What Types of Car Insurance Cover Natural Disasters?
Now we see some of the most commonly carried forms of insurance don’t cover damage from natural disasters. So what does? If you want damage from natural disasters covered through your policy, comprehensive insurance is your only option.
A comprehensive insurance policy covers any damage to your vehicle that’s not the result of a crash or collision. In addition to natural disasters, comprehensive coverage protects against vandalism, explosions, theft, animal impacts, fire, and broken glass. Although the exact details of your comprehensive policy will vary, natural disasters should be covered.
Another type of insurance that you might hear about is ‘full coverage.’ Although full coverage isn’t a specific type of insurance, it usually means you’ll have enough coverage to protect your vehicle in every possible scenario, which includes natural disasters. That’s because full insurance includes comprehensive coverage.
Beyond natural disasters, full coverage also provides protection for bodily injury liability, property damage, collisions. Medical payments coverage isn’t always included. It’s optional in some states, as is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and roadside assistance.
Learn More: Comprehensive insurance policy
Car Insurance Coverage for Natural Disasters
Each year we see both mild and extreme acts of nature impact our country. If you were to encounter such an ordeal, here’s how your comprehensive policy might kick in.
A flood could seriously damage your vehicle. But if you continuously carry comprehensive insurance, the water damage should be covered under the policy.
Importantly, the timing of your comprehensive policy purchase matters. Most insurance companies will institute a binding restriction on the policy that prevents you from adding coverage once there’s a forecasted flood.
So, don’t think you can wait until the last minute to purchase comprehensive coverage right before the flood hits. You need to carry the coverage year round.
Wildfires present a daunting threat to vehicle owners. But for those that carry comprehensive insurance, at least any damage incurred by the flames will be covered.
Like flooding, most insurance companies will enact binding restrictions when a wildfire is in an area. After the fire is started, it’s too late to add a comprehensive car insurance policy.
Hurricanes can unleash a unique blend of devastation on an area. Depending on the storm, you might see flooding and high winds that can significantly damage buildings. And of course, your car could be sitting right in the path of destruction.
If you have comprehensive coverage before the storm is forecasted, then damages incurred will be covered. If you are worried about hurricane damage, then be sure you have the necessary coverage during hurricane season which lasts June 1 – November 30.
Earthquakes are another natural disaster covered under a comprehensive insurance policy. If your car is damaged in the earth rattling event, then file a claim to have the repair costs covered.
Hail damage doesn’t subscribe to a particular season. Unfortunately, a hail storm can pop up out of nowhere to wreak havoc on your vehicle. Depending on the size of the hail balls, you might be facing significant damage.
A comprehensive policy will cover the costs of this damage.
“Acts of God”
Of course, the list above is not a complete look at covered natural disasters. Other potential “Acts of God” covered include tornados, sinkholes, landslides, mudslides, and volcanic eruptions. If you have specific questions about what’s covered by your policy, you should reach out to your insurance company.
It’s important to read the fine print of your policy to determine exactly what’s covered. Although comprehensive policies should pay for damages caused by natural disasters, your insurance policy might have a special caveat involved.
If you have any questions about the details of your policy, reach out to your insurance company. They should be able to walk you through exactly what’s covered.
Should You Get Comprehensive Coverage?
You want to protect your vehicle in case there’s a natural disaster, but you’re still on the fence about adding comprehensive coverage – now what? It’s important to note that while having this extra layer of protection is helpful, it’s not best for everyone. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind when you think about whether it’s the right choice for you.
Consider Your Obligations
The first thing to do is consider what type of insurance you are legally obligated to purchase. Your state won’t require anything beyond your minimum liability coverage, but there are other factors at play if you are financing or leasing your vehicle.
If financing your vehicle, all lenders require you to purchase comprehensive insurance for the duration of your loan term. The reason behind this requirement for extra protection is to protect their investment in your vehicle until the loan is paid off.
If leasing the vehicle, you are essentially borrowing it for a set period of time. With that, the lessor requires comprehensive insurance as well.
As a driver that leases or finances your vehicle, you won’t have much of a choice.
Look at Your Vehicle’s Value
Another factor to consider is the current value of your vehicle.
Not sure how much your car is currently worth? You can determine a reasonable estimate through sites such as Kelley Blue Book.
If your vehicle has a relatively low value, then dropping comprehensive coverage might be the right move.
For example, you might decide to drop your comprehensive coverage when your vehicle’s value dips below $4,000. That’s because the payout for a claim from your comprehensive coverage would be relatively low at that point.
But you’ll need to decide what your threshold is for canceling comprehensive insurance. You might decide to drop coverage when the vehicle’s value drops under $6,000 or $3,000. Ultimately, it will depend on your means to replace the vehicle without a payout from a comprehensive policy.
If you can afford to replace the car without assistance, then carrying the extra cost of a comprehensive insurance policy is likely an unnecessary expense.
The key here is to assess your vehicle’s value on a regular basis. As the used car industry changes, vehicle values increase and decrease. Having an accurate idea of how much your car is worth will ensure you don’t drop coverage when your vehicle is actually worth more than you think.
Don’t Forget About Your Budget
When considering comprehensive car insurance, your budget is another critical component to consider. Remember, comprehensive insurance is an additional cost on top of your required liability insurance.
The Insurance Information Institute found that the average annual cost of comprehensive insurance was $159.72 or $13.31 per month. Can you afford the extra cost on top of what you pay for liability coverage?
Depending on your situation, you may or may not have room in the budget. But this kind of policy is worth considering because it could protect your budget in the long term. If you have to file a claim, you’ll be happy that you sprang for a comprehensive policy.
Before you write off this option completely, take a minute to shop around for this coverage. You might be surprised by your affordable coverage options when you look at all of the insurers. We make this process painless with our free comparison tool.
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How to File an Insurance Claim After a Natural Disaster
After a natural disaster rolls through town, you likely have plenty of tasks on your plate. Unfortunately, living in the aftermath of a disaster often involves scrambling to move forward. But if possible, make filing your car insurance claim a priority.
After all, if you have car damage, you probably aren’t alone. If thousands of vehicles are damaged, it’s easy for your insurance company to get behind on claims. So, it’s important to get to the front of that line.
The good news is you can likely easily file your claim through an app or online. With that, you can avoid the rush of people calling in through the customer service line. The sooner you file the claim, the sooner you’ll receive your payout.
But if you don’t have the time or resources to file your claim immediately, take a few minutes to take pictures of the damage. Write down any details you might need for your claim including the date of the disaster and what kind of damage that happened. This information will come in handy later.
You should also have your vehicle assessed by an auto body technician to make sure it’s safe to drive after a natural disaster.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if a natural disaster destroys your car?
The next steps depend on your car insurance policy. If you have comprehensive car insurance, then your insurance company should cover all or part of the damage. If you don’t have comprehensive insurance, you’ll be paying out of pocket.
Does liability insurance protect against natural disasters?
No, liability insurance doesn’t protect against natural disasters. Instead, it helps cover any medical fees, legal fees, and property damage costs for the other person involved in an accident. Most states require a minimum amount of liability insurance.
How do insurance companies handle natural disasters?
Typically, if a natural disaster is barreling towards an area, the insurance company won’t issue any new comprehensive insurance policies until after the event is over.
After the natural disaster, insurance companies will pay claims for existing comprehensive policies. However, the response time might be longer than normal. That’s due to the high volume of claims. Plus, if the insurance company itself sustained damage, that might temporarily halt operations.
Does full coverage insurance cover natural disasters?
Yes, full coverage insurance covers natural disasters. That’s because it includes comprehensive protection.
Is storm damage an “Act of God”?
Depending on your insurance policy, you might see “Acts of God” covered. Essentially, this means that any natural event without human intervention would qualify. Storms, floods, and more are all considered Acts of God.
Can I write off car damage from natural disasters?
Depending on the natural disaster, you may be able to write off some of your damage on taxes. Although there are specific rules involved, this is an option to consider. If you want to pursue this option, check out the IRS website or talk to a tax professional.
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