Does Auto Insurance Pay for Damage from Natural Disasters?

Last Updated on September 15, 2023

Natural disasters and other natural weather phenomena happen all the time in the United States. Some areas are prone to flooding, some get frequent tornadoes, some areas get hurricanes or strong wind and rain, and some areas get forest fires. Whatever part of the country you live in, there are chances of a natural disaster happening and a state of emergency being declared. When it does, is your car covered? Learn what type of coverage you need and what it covers.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Comprehensive car insurance coverage is essential for protection against natural disasters and “acts of God” damages.
  2. While state minimums and liability coverage don’t cover natural disasters, addendums can be added for specific disaster coverage, though comprehensive coverage is often more encompassing.
  3. Beyond natural disasters, comprehensive coverage protects against theft, animal collisions, and other unforeseen damages.
  4. It’s crucial to understand your current coverage, shop for the best rates, and ensure that your chosen policy covers all potential risks.

Types of Coverage

There are a few different types of coverage that you can get for your vehicle. Most states only require that you have liability coverage. This minimum car insurance only covers damages and medical costs of the other party if you are liable in an accident. You may also have collision coverage, which covers damages and injuries to yourself or your vehicle if you hit another vehicle or object. Comprehensive coverage is meant to cover everything else.

If you only have the state minimum required insurance or you only have liability and collision coverage, natural disasters will not be covered automatically by your insurance policy. The only way that you can get coverage for natural disasters is to have comprehensive coverage or to purchase individual coverage based on your area.


It is possible to get addendums to your car insurance policy rather than getting full coverage. For example, if you live on a floodplain, you might want to get an addendum that covers flooding specifically. You can also get addendums for fire, hurricane, or tornado coverage. However, there are some disadvantages. If you get only one specific type of coverage, that specific disaster is the only one that will be covered. Often, you can get similar rates by simply getting comprehensive coverage that covers everything.

Comprehensive Coverage

Comprehensive coverage on auto insurance covers everything other than hitting an object or another vehicle. This means that comprehensive insurance covers most natural disasters, as well as weather phenomena like hail. Comprehensive coverage will also cover additional damages related to natural disasters, such as a tree branch falling on your vehicle. Situations like these are considered “acts of God” and are covered only if you have comprehensive coverage.

Acts of God

Other acts of God that will be covered by your comprehensive coverage include:

  • Sinkholes
  • Landslides
  • Mudslides
  • Volcanoes
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Riots and civil unrest

Comprehensive Coverage as a “Catch All”

Comprehensive insurance fills the gaps not covered by collision or liability policies, encompassing damages from events like riots or civil disturbances. While there can be some exceptions to coverage based on your state, your car insurance company, and other factors, most of the time, comprehensive will cover any damages that liability and collision coverage do not cover.

How Much Does Comprehensive Coverage Cost?

Comprehensive coverage can vary in price depending on where you live and how expensive your vehicle is. Vehicles that are more costly to repair or replace will cost more to insure. You will also pay more for comprehensive coverage if you live in an area at high risk for comprehensive claims. For example, if your state has a history of high claims due to frequent hurricanes or storms, you could pay more for your comprehensive coverage than someone who lives in a state where natural disasters are not common.

Other Benefits

Comprehensive coverage has other benefits than just covering natural disasters. Comprehensive coverage will also cover your losses if your vehicle is stolen, whether it is recovered or not. Comprehensive coverage will also cover your damages if you strike an animal (such as a deer). Comprehensive coverage is not much more expensive than collision, and the difference in premium will be well worth it to ensure that all of these items are covered.

If you have a vehicle that has a lien, or you purchased your car with a loan or financing, you are likely required to have comprehensive coverage on your vehicle. Getting comprehensive coverage along with collision and liability ensures that your vehicle is fully and completely protected. Banks and lenders like you to have this coverage so that if something happens to the vehicle, they are still guaranteed to receive payment.

Getting Coverage

The easiest way to get comprehensive or addendum coverage is to talk to your current car insurance company. Learn what coverage you have and what coverage is available. Ask specific questions about what the comprehensive policy covers with that company. You may also want to shop around for new car insurance rates that include comprehensive coverage. Rates can vary widely, and each company covers different things. It is important to not only get online quotes but also to touch base with the companies you query to make sure that everything you need to be covered will be covered.

If you have difficulty finding comprehensive coverage, you might want to look into addendum coverage. Comprehensive coverage can be costly if you are a high-risk driver, have traffic violations, or have had claims in the past.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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