Does Car Insurance Pay for Tornado Damage?
Tornadoes can severely damage a vehicle. When a tornado strikes your vehicle, can you expect car insurance to cover the tornado damage?
Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about whether or not car insurance pays for tornado damage.
Comprehensive Coverage Should Cover Tornado Damage
Tornado damage falls under comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage covers things like theft, vandalism, storm damage, or a collision with an animal. Tornado damage is a covered peril, which means insurance will reimburse you for tornado damage.
It’s important to remember that tornado damage doesn’t necessarily fall neatly into a specific category: flying debris from a tornado could slam into your vehicle. The high winds from a tornado could cause your vehicle to roll into a ditch. A tornado could cause an object to hit your vehicle and shatter the windshield. Regardless of how the damage occurred, however, comprehensive coverage should cover tornado damage.
Do I Have to Pay a Deductible for Tornado Damage?
There’s a prevailing myth that car insurance companies will waive the deductible when your car is damaged by an “Act of God” – like a tornado. However, this is not true. Your car insurance company will always charge deductibles based on the rules outlined in your policy.
Typically, comprehensive coverage comes with a deductible of $250 to $500. You will need to pay this deductible before your tornado repairs can be completed.
What is Comprehensive Coverage? What Does Comprehensive Coverage Cover?
Comprehensive coverage covers a wider range of circumstances than a typical insurance policy. Typically, comprehensive coverage is bundled with collision coverage as part of full coverage car insurance.
Generally, comprehensive coverage covers damage to occurs to your vehicle outside of normal driving activities. If you get into an accident, for example, then collision coverage should cover the cost of repairing damage to your own vehicle. If another driver collides with you, then your liability insurance should cover any damage you inflict on the other driver. Comprehensive coverage, however, works differently, it covers damage like:
In a tornado, your car should be covered by comprehensive coverage as long as the damage was caused by the tornado itself.
However, if there is some controversy over what actually caused damage to your vehicle, then you may run into issues with your insurance policy’s binding restrictions.
Be Aware of Binding Restrictions
A tornado car insurance damage claim could be denied due to binding restrictions. Binding restrictions are items placed in a car insurance policy by an insurer.
Essentially, a binding restriction can be summarized like this: you can’t buy coverage for a hurricane just before a hurricane strikes. If a hurricane warning has already been declared for your area, for example, then you cannot rush out to buy hurricane insurance for your vehicle or home. There’s a binding restriction that prevents you from making a claim under that policy in certain situations – say, if a hurricane warning has already been declared for your area.
Binding restrictions are less common with tornadoes, although they can still occur. As long as you carry comprehensive coverage prior to a binding restriction being implemented, however, you should have no trouble making a claim for tornado damage under your car insurance policy.
How to Determine If You Have Comprehensive Coverage
Was your car damaged by a tornado? Do you want to make sure you have comprehensive coverage? Here are a few ways to verify that you have comprehensive coverage and are covered from tornado damage:
Declaration Page: Check your car insurance policy’s declaration page. You should have a declaration page mailed or emailed to you every time you renew your policy (say, every 6 or 12 months). Your declarations page should list any damage that is covered. It may state that only damages from collisions are covered. If you have comprehensive coverage, then your declarations page should specifically mention the fact that you have comprehensive coverage.
Check Policy Online: Most major insurers let you check your policy online. Find your policy number on your proof of insurance card, then check your policy online using your insurer’s official website. You should be able to view all relevant information from your insurance policy online.
Call your Insurance Agent: If you bought car insurance through an insurance agent, then you can call your insurance agent to get more information about your policy. Your agent can explain what type of coverage you have, including whether you can file a claim.
Call your Insurance Company: If none of the options listed above have worked, then you can call your insurance carrier’s customer service number. Give them your name or policy number, and the agent should be able to verify whatever type of coverage you have.
What Happens If I Don’t Have Comprehensive Coverage?
If a tornado damages your vehicle and you don’t have comprehensive coverage, then you will need to pay for tornado damage repairs out of pocket. You will need to pay out of pocket to repair your vehicle (if it’s damaged) or replace your vehicle (if it’s damaged beyond repair).
If you only have basic liability coverage (the bare legal minimum required in any state), then you will not be covered against tornado damage. Some drivers only maintain basic liability coverage to lower insurance costs. Others drive an older vehicle, in which case it makes more sense to maintain basic liability coverage instead of full coverage.
Full coverage car insurance, which includes collision and comprehensive coverage, should cover any damage a tornado causes to your vehicle.
If you live in a tornado-prone region, then it may be in your best interest to add comprehensive coverage to your insurance policy – if you haven’t already done so.