Tornado Damage and Car Insurance: What’s Covered, and How It Works

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red car damaged by tree

Around 1,200 tornadoes occur each year in the U.S. and are most common from May–July, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Tornado wind speeds can cause objects to become airborne, which can cause significant damage to your car.

The Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale rates the strength of tornadoes — and the higher the wind speed, the more damage a tornado can cause. That’s why having the right auto insurance coverage is crucial. Fortunately, comprehensive coverage covers damage from tornadoes — whether an object hits your car, a tree falls on it, or a downed power line causes it to catch fire.

Keep reading to learn how auto insurance works for tornado damage and when to buy coverage. We’ll also walk you through how to file a tornado damage claim.

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Does Car Insurance Cover Tornado Damage?

Your auto insurance policy will cover tornado and storm damage if you have comprehensive coverage. It covers things like hail damage, wind damage from flying or falling objects, and flood damage. If one of these events causes enough severe damage to total your vehicle, your insurer will pay you its actual cash value (ACV) minus your comprehensive deductible.

Although most states require liability coverage, it doesn’t cover damage from natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes. It only covers damages or injuries you cause to others in an accident.

Collision insurance also doesn’t cover weather-related car insurance claims for a parked car — it pays for damage to your car if you hit another vehicle or stationary object.

If you don’t have tornado coverage but are considering it, it’s important to know when you can buy it.

When should you buy tornado coverage?

If you have a full-coverage auto policy, you already have comprehensive coverage. You can also add the coverage separately to a liability insurance policy. It’s optional, but a good idea if you live in a high-risk area like Tornado Alley or anywhere else in the U.S. where severe weather is common.

If your state issues a tornado warning or watch, insurance companies may temporarily stop allowing new insurance policies or changes to existing policies. That means you won’t be able to add comprehensive coverage. The best way to know if your policy will cover the damage is to have the right coverage in place before your area issues a storm warning.

Is It Worth It to File a Tornado Damage Claim?

black car damaged by tree

It might be worth filing a claim if you have comprehensive auto insurance and the damage costs more to repair than your deductible. Consider how extensive the damage is, how much repairs would cost, and how long it would take to fix your car to decide if filing a claim is worth it.

It’s a good idea to file a claim if you can’t afford to fix your vehicle on your own. Remember, though, you still have to pay your comprehensive deductible. Your insurance company payout can also help you buy a new car if a tornado totals your old one.

Keep in mind that any claim you file could increase your rates when your policy renews. And if your area has a lot of damage, insurers could see a high claim volume, making the claims process take longer.

If you’re ready to file a claim, here’s how.

How to File an Auto Insurance Claim for Tornado Damage

If a tornado damages your car, follow these five steps to file a car insurance claim.

  1. Take photos or videos of the damage. After the tornado passes and you’re safe, survey the damage to your car. Take pictures or videos showing the vehicle damage and the original source of the damage. For instance, if heavy winds knocked down tree branches that hit your car, photograph the branches and broken trees.
  2. File the claim. Once you document the damage, file the claim online, over the phone, or directly through your insurance agent. Provide details like where it happened and the storm’s date and time.
  3. Track the claims process. An insurance adjuster will review your claim details and determine the cost to repair your car. You might need to provide more information, like a repair estimate, so check your email to help the process go smoothly.
  4. Receive your claim payout. After reviewing your case, your auto insurance company will provide you with a settlement and claim payout.
  5. Fix your car. You can use the claim payout to fix or replace your vehicle if the tornado totaled it. If you fix your car, you’ll usually pay your deductible to the repair shop.

How Much Does it Cost to Repair Tornado Damage?

Cars in driveway damaged by fallen trees

Repair costs for tornado damage vary by the body shop, repair costs in your area, how extensive the damage is, your car insurance company, insurance coverage, and deductible.

People reported about 5,500 home and auto claims following tornadoes and severe weather in 2024, according to State Farm. Some of the states with the worst damages include Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. And these were the top 10 states for tornadoes in 2023, according to the National Weather Service:

  1. Illinois
  2. Alabama
  3. Colorado
  4. Texas
  5. Mississippi
  6. Nebraska
  7. Iowa
  8. Georgia
  9. Ohio
  10. Tennessee

How Much Does Comprehensive Insurance Cost?

car driving down flooded street

The average comprehensive insurance cost is $174 for a six-month car insurance policy, according to National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) data. Your ZIP code, local weather and average repair costs, and vehicle make and model are a few factors that influence how much you pay for comprehensive coverage.

The table below shows 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

Tennessee and Wyoming are the most expensive states for comprehensive insurance, while California and Idaho are the cheapest. Some of the costliest storms with tornadoes have occurred in Tennessee and Wyoming, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), which can contribute to higher premiums.

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FAQs About Tornado Damage

Make sure you understand how your car insurance works before a tornado occurs. Here are answers to the most common questions about tornado damage and auto insurance.

What happens if a tornado destroys your car?

It depends on your car insurance policy. If you have a liability-only policy and a tornado destroys your car, you’ll have to pay to repair or replace it yourself. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) might also provide financial help if you qualify. Your insurer may cover the cost (minus your deductible) if you have comprehensive coverage.

Will a tornado increase your car insurance rates?

It depends. Filing a claim for tornado damage could increase your car insurance rates if your insurer thinks you’re a higher risk to insure.

Factors like the frequency of claims where you live, your ZIP code, and your insurance company determine premium increases. But comprehensive claims tend to have minimal, if any, effect.

What’s the deductible for tornado damage?

It depends on your policy. Comprehensive insurance covers tornado damage, so you’d pay your comprehensive deductible if you file a claim.

For example, if you have a $500 comprehensive deductible and your car gets weather-related damages, you’d pay $500 towards fixing it. You’d receive a settlement minus your deductible if the storm totals your vehicle.

How can you protect your car from tornado damage?

Parking your car in a garage or building is the best way to protect it from tornado damage. Keeping it inside can protect it from large hail and debris or objects like a falling tree branch that could damage it.

Are tornadoes classified by damage?

Yes. The National Weather Service created the Enhanced Fujita, or EF, scale to determine tornado classification. The scale is from 0 to 5 — with 0 having a three-second sustaining wind gust of 65–85 mph to the most damaging EF 5 tornado with wind gusts of 200 mph or higher.

Data Methodology

Data scientists at analyzed more than 50 million real-time auto insurance rates from more than 75 partner insurers 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. Federal Emergency Management Agency, “FEMA Can Assist with Tornado Damage to Your Car,” Accessed May 31, 2024.
  2. Insurance Information Institute, “Facts + Statistics: Tornadoes and thunderstorms,” Accessed May 31, 2024.
  3. National Association of Insurance Commissioners, “2019/2020 Auto Insurance Database Report,” Accessed May 31, 2024.
  4. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Enhanced F Scale for Tornado Damage,” Accessed May 31, 2024.
  5. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “Severe Weather 101 — Tornadoes,” Accessed May 31, 2024.
  6. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “Tornadoes,” Accessed May 31, 2024.

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