Does Car Insurance Pay for Tornado Damage?

Last Updated on May 11, 2020

You depend on car insurance to cover unexpected damage. But does car insurance really cover tornado damage? Or are you forced to pay for tornado damage repairs out of pocket?

A bare minimum insurance policy will not pay for tornado damage. Full coverage car insurance, or a car insurance policy with comprehensive coverage, on the other hand, will cover tornado damage.

Tornado damage falls under comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage also covers fire damage, theft, vandalism, hail damage, and other costs not related to accidents. If your car is damaged by the wind, rain, hail, or other effects of a tornado, then you should be able to make a claim through comprehensive coverage.

Does Car Insurance Pay for Tornado Damage?

How Car Insurance Covers Tornado Damage

Car insurance consists of three parts, including:

Liability Insurance: Required by law in most states, liability insurance includes bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage. Liability coverage will pay for damage that you are deemed to be at-fault and liable for. Liability coverage will not cover tornado damage.

Collision Coverage: Not required in any state, collision coverage covers damage to your own vehicle after an accident. Collision coverage also will not cover tornado damage.

Comprehensive Coverage: Not required in any state, comprehensive coverage covers damage caused by non-accident-related events, including tornadoes, fires, vandalism, theft, and more. Comprehensive coverage WILL cover tornado damage.

If your car is damaged during a tornado, then you can make a claim through your comprehensive coverage. You then take your damaged vehicle to a repair shop (preferably an insurer-approved repair shop) to assess the damages. Finally, you pay your deductible, the body shop will repair your vehicle, and your insurer will cover all remaining damages.

Tornado damage is a covered peril under your comprehensive insurance policy. Unless your policy specifically excludes coverage for tornadoes, you should have no issue making a car insurance claim for tornado damage. To make sure that your policy covers damage from tornadoes, its best to contact your insurance company to double-check. You do not want to be stuck without coverage after a tornado has ravaged your car.

How Tornadoes Damage your Vehicle

Tornadoes can damage your vehicle in multiple ways.

Your house might be nowhere near the tornado’s path, yet it still gets damaged by falling debris, fallen tree branches, or other effects of the windstorm.

Or, you might be driving during a tornado, and the high winds could force you off the road or into another vehicle.

Many drivers also experience broken glass or windshields after a tornado. Debris can slam into your windshield or side windows, causing it to shatter.

Tornado damage can be very costly, which is why it is imperative to make sure you are covered if you live in a region of the country that experiences a lot of tornadoes.

No matter what type of damage the tornado causes, you should be able to make a claim through your comprehensive coverage.

What to Do While Driving During a Tornado

Seeing a tornado while driving or receiving a tornado alert on your mobile phone can be frightening.

If you live in a tornado-prone region, then you may know what measures and precautions to take. For many drivers, however, tornados are unexpected and terrifying, and it’s not always clear what to do.

Tips for driving during a tornado include:

  • Go to the nearest solid shelter as quickly and safely as possible. Tornadoes can tear through buildings, but it’s still a good idea to put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible.
  • Drive at 90 degrees away from the path of the tornado.
  • If you cannot find shelter or drive away, and the tornado is approaching your vehicle, then you need to find a low-lying area. Exit your vehicle and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. If the tornado is close and you do not see a low-lying area, then stay in your car with the seatbelt on. Keep your head below the windows and cover yourself with a blanket if possible.
  • Do not try outrunning the tornado.
  • Avoid gravel roads, as the high winds can make them impassable during a tornado.
  • Don’t take shelter under an overpass or bridge unless you absolutely have to, as winds can accelerate debris through these areas, increasing the risk of injury or death.
  • Avoid taking shelter in a culvert unless you absolutely have to, as it can become trapped with water or debris after a tornado.

Check your Insurance Policy for Binding Restrictions on Tornadoes

You may have comprehensive coverage car insurance, but you may not be covered for tornadoes.

Some insurance companies deny tornado-related insurance claims due to binding restrictions. We typically see binding restrictions with floods and hurricanes (say, if you live in a flood or hurricane-prone region). However, binding restrictions may be applied during any severe weather event – including a tornado.

Binding restrictions stipulate that you cannot buy coverage for an event just before that event strikes. If a hurricane is approaching the coast, for example, you cannot call your insurer and add comprehensive coverage for hurricane damages. The same rule applies to tornadoes.

Final Word on Tornadoes and Car Insurance Coverage

Your car insurance policy should cover tornado damage if you have full coverage car insurance. Full coverage insurance includes comprehensive and collision coverage. Comprehensive coverage covers non-accident-related damages, including flood damage, fire damage, hurricane damage, tornado damage, and more. If you live in a tornado-prone area, you should consider adding comprehensive coverage to your policy.

To make a claim for tornado damage, contact your insurer and start the claim. You will pay your deductible, and your insurer will cover any remaining damages to your vehicle.

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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