Does car insurance cover natural disasters?

Natural disasters leave people lost in the chaos. Many are left asking, does auto insurance cover natural disasters? What type of car insurance covers natural disasters? In the event of a natural disaster, only comprehensive or full coverage car insurance will protect you and your vehicle. However, coverage cannot be obtained if a disaster warning has been declared in the area.

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D. Gilson is a writer and author of essays, poetry, and scholarship that explore the relationship between popular culture, literature, sexuality, and memoir. His latest book is Jesus Freak, with Will Stockton, part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series. His other books include I Will Say This Exactly One Time and Crush. His first chapbook, Catch & Release, won the 2012 Robin Becker Prize from Seve...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Jul 28, 2021

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The Highlights

  • Basic car insurance alone will not cover natural disasters.
  • A driver must hold comprehensive car insurance to be protected from flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, hail, earthquakes, and more.
  • Comprehensive coverage has restrictions and limitations based on location and timing of a natural disaster.

Experiencing a natural disaster can leave you feeling lost in the chaos. This leaves many wondering – does auto insurance cover natural disasters?

A flood, wildfire, or earthquake often comes with little warning, and may damage your property and vehicle unexpectedly.  

It’s important to learn exactly what your auto insurance policy can cover in the event of a natural disaster.  Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to compare car insurance online and find the most suitable coverage.

Once the natural disaster has passed, the surrounding area may still be at risk. The aftermath of a natural disaster often includes dangerous driving conditions in the affected area.

These unfortunate natural disasters can also cause damage even while your car is not on the road. Drivers should get very familiar with the details of their insurance policy in order to understand the realities of these situations. 

Enter your ZIP code above to compare car insurance rates on coverage for natural disasters from multiple companies for free.

What type of car insurance covers natural disasters?

You may have heard of comprehensive or ‘full coverage’ insurance, but these terms leave drivers with many questions. Among them, what does full coverage insurance cover?

Comprehensive insurance coverage offers protection from damage caused by natural disasters and other factors out of a driver’s control. Riots, theft, and vandalism are all covered by comprehensive car insurance. 

There is also coverage offered by various companies that protects against certain classifications of natural disasters. 

Policies and offers vary from company to company. Read our guide on the best insurance companies to find out more.

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What does full coverage insurance cover?

Car insurance policies that offer comprehensive coverage should have your back in case of any harsh weather effects, extreme conditions, and other ‘acts of god’. 

Does insurance cover natural disasters? Well, depends on the event in question. The main points of concern for natural disaster coverage include: 

  1. Flooding
  2. Wildfires
  3. Hurricanes
  4. Hail
  5. Earthquakes
  6. Riots, theft, etc. 

Does car insurance protect against flooding?

Depending on the severity, a flood can cause serious damage to drivers. The only way to really be prepared for a flood is to consistently be covered by comprehensive car insurance.

Timing will be of the essence – it is much better to be prepared ahead of time. 

Insurance companies may enact certain restrictions on new and existing policies if a flood threat has already been declared in your area. This is why you must plan ahead and secure comprehensive coverage prior to local flooding. 

Unfortunately, if a natural disaster has been forecasted to hit your area, these binding restrictions may prevent you from adding comprehensive car insurance to your policy. 

Does car insurance protect against wildfires?

Wildfires are becoming increasingly common in certain areas of the US. These incidents are not only deadly, but can affect driving routes and cause mass evacuations.

Unfortunately, motorists are only protected against these potential threats if they maintain comprehensive coverage through their car insurance provider. 

Similarly to floods, timing is everything – binding restrictions are put in place when a wildfire occurs in the area.

If you or a loved one live in an area known for these fires, act quickly to ensure you are covered.

Does car insurance protect against hurricanes?

Hurricanes can be especially devastating, and historically have destroyed roads, homes, and whole communities.

There is no additional coverage required for protection against hurricanes – everything will be covered in a comprehensive car insurance plan. 

Make sure to reread your policy before storm season has come and gone. Always protect yourself and your property in the event of a large hurricane.

Does car insurance protect against earthquakes?

You will need seperate protection for your home, but your car will be covered under comprehensive car insurance in the event of an earthquake. 

Small earthquakes happen every day, but there’s no telling when the next big one will hit.

Though it may seem strange to consider car insurance during an earthquake, vehicles are often damaged due to falling debris and structures.

Once again, a safe and responsible driver knows it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Does car insurance protect against riots, thefts, and more? 

Riots, thefts, and other damages out of the driver’s control are all covered by comprehensive car insurance. These damages are typically known as ‘acts of god’, and include a variety of circumstances. 

Protection against ‘acts of god’ includes coverage for: 

  • Riots and civil disobedience
  • Vandalism of the vehicle
  • Sinkholes
  • Landslides and mudslides
  • Eruptions from volcanoes

In basic terms a quality comprehensive coverage plan acts as a general catch all for any damages not covered by collision or liability insurance.

Do I need full coverage car insurance?

The simple answer is that if you can afford it, comprehensive coverage is a great level of coverage for any driver.

Many drivers seek comprehensive coverage due to the possible billing amount after a vehicle is damaged by a natural disaster. The costs for coverage may outweigh the cost for damages later on. 

Not having appropriate insurance coverage can be a serious financial risk. Natural disasters are becoming more commonplace, and drivers should be prepared.

However, it can get a little pricey. It’s important to review your own situation and consider what would fit best for your coverage needs. 

There are a few simple questions you can review to make a more informed decision.

Is your vehicle actually worth enough to justify comprehensive coverage?

A guideline for making this choice comes down to the cash value of your vehicle. If it is worth less than $4,000 USD, your agent may warn against comprehensive coverage.

For cheaper vehicles, comprehensive coverage would only payout a very small amount, rendering it not very useful. 

Do you own your vehicle or is it under a leasing or financing plan? 

If you do not own your vehicle and instead are leasing or financing it through a third party, you may be required to carry comprehensive coverage.

This is because your lender wants to protect their investment and insure the car is protected even in the worst case scenario. 

If you do own your vehicle, are you planning to resell it? 

If you are not leasing or financing your car and are planning to sell it some time in the future, comprehensive coverage is a smart financial investment. 

Kelley Blue Book states that drivers who put extra consideration into the care and condition of their vehicle could earn thousands of dollars more when selling their car later down the line.

A good coverage plan helps to maintain the resale value of your vehicle. 

Comprehensive Coverage and Natural Disasters: the Bottom Line

If you’re planning on adding a comprehensive coverage plan to your car insurance policy, do it sooner rather than later.

Making decisions for your vehicle coverage can be difficult, so make sure to know the basics of car insurance.

Comprehensive coverage will protect you in the event of flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and any other ‘acts of god’.

When a natural disaster strikes, you can rest easy knowing you’re covered. Of course, a comprehensive coverage policy must be enacted prior to any damage or weather warnings declared in the area.

Given that natural disasters are known for their unexpected nature, it’s important to maintain comprehensive coverage on your vehicle at all times. 

The unfortunate reality is that these plans can still become costly. Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to run a comparison of the best insurance quotes online.  

Enter your ZIP code into the free tool below and find out how you can save on comprehensive car insurance coverage for natural disasters.

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