Does my car insurance cover natural disasters?

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Here's what you need to know...
  • Your car insurance policy may protect you in the event of a natural disaster
  • Normally, to have coverage in these situations, you need to have your policy in place before the disaster occurs
  • There are different coverage options that may provide coverage, usually comprehensive and collision coverage
  • Collision coverage provides protection from damages that may occur while driving your car, such as hydroplaning due to heavy rains
  • Comprehensive coverage normally provides coverage for damages that are not related to a collision with your vehicle, such as fire, hail, or flooding

Natural disasters can occur at any given time, causing damage your vehicle when you least expect it. In addition to the dangerous driving conditions that natural disasters may create, these disasters can damage your car even when it’s not on the road. It’s important to learn what your policy provides coverage for in the event of a natural disaster.

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Natural Disasters Come In Many Forms

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Natural disasters are often hard to define because they can vary based on the area affected and the number of people affected.

However, there are some traditionally accepted events that are defined as a natural disaster. For example, a hurricane or tropical storm is normally considered a natural disaster due to the amount of damage that can occur, the number of people that can be affected.

Natural disasters are sometimes referred to as catastrophes within the insurance world, meaning it’s a severe disaster; either natural or man-made.

Each insurance provider may have a different definition of what they consider a natural disaster or a catastrophe, just as the insurance industry as a whole has different criteria for what is a true catastrophe.

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Your Collision Coverage Protects You From Disaster-Related Accidents

Depending on the natural disaster that’s affecting your area, there could be some conditions that may cause a collision.

For example, during a hurricane, heavy rains or excessive winds could create hazardous driving conditions. During a natural disaster, any collision related damages would still fall under your collision coverage.

Similar to a common two-car accident, your collision coverage may require that you pay a deductible. The deductible on your policy is the amount you are responsible for before your policy limits come into effect.

This amount is normally selected when you first purchase your policy or when you renew your policy with your provider. Your insurance provider can discuss your coverage options and your deductible in further detail.

Your Comprehensive Coverage Protects Against Damages Caused By a Disaster

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Although natural disasters may be responsible for some collision related accidents, there are often more damages caused by your car being parked in an affected area.

These types of damages are often referred to as “other-than-collision” damages and are typically covered under your comprehensive coverage. This coverage usually protects your vehicle in situations where you are not involved in a collision.

Using your comprehensive coverage, your car may be protected from a variety of different natural disasters, such as a tornado, flooding, hurricanes, or fires.

In the example of a hurricane, for instance, this could mean that your insurance policy would cover your car if the winds, rain, or even hail from the hurricane damaged your vehicle.

Just like your collision coverage, your comprehensive coverage usually has a deductible amount that you will be responsible for before your policy limits take effect.

Your insurance provider may be unwilling to provide any coverage before you pay this amount, or they may reduce any settlement by the amount of your deductible if you cannot pay.

If you are looking for insurance coverage, or already have an active policy, it’s important to speak with your provider. They can discuss what comprehensive coverage covers under their policy terms, allowing you to decide if the coverage limits work for what you need.

Each provider may offer slightly different terms in his or her policy, so it’s important to get multiple quotes to compare offerings.

Natural Disaster Claims May Come With Unique Terms Or Conditions

Many natural disasters can damage a large number of people’s property all at once, meaning that your insurance provider may receive hundreds of claims all at the same time.

To process these claims effectively, as well as reduce any fraud attempts, your provider may require you to follow specific guidelines or meet specific conditions before you can file a claim for natural disaster damages.

One of the conditions that may be in effect is your policy’s age. When natural disasters are predicted or imminent, your insurance provider may place a temporary hold on writing new policies or adjusting current policies.

This may mean that any coverage you do not carry before the disaster, such as comprehensive coverage, could not be added until the disaster has passed.

It’s important that you consider purchasing or renewing your insurance coverage before a natural disaster restriction takes effect. Once your potential or current provider has a restriction in place, you may not be able to acquire coverage or alter your existing coverage to protect your vehicle.

Your insurance provider may also require you to file your claim within a certain time window, or they may require that your vehicle was damaged within a specified date range to qualify for the natural disaster coverage.

If this is the case, there may also be unique claim handling procedures that your provider has set up. If you are filing a claim for damages from a natural disaster, be sure to ask about any unique conditions you need to abide by.

Finding the Right Protection

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Natural disasters can occur in any area at any time, and it’s not always possible to plan accordingly. Before damages caused by a disaster occur, it’s critical that you understand what your policy covers.

The different conditions that natural disasters create could fall under collision or comprehensive coverage, and some providers may require that you have active coverage before any disaster occurs.

If you have questions or concerns about what your policy will cover in the event of a natural disaster, make sure to speak to your insurance provider.

Also, your state’s Department of Insurance can speak to you about different coverage requirements in each state, as well as any situations that a natural disaster may not be covered under your traditional auto insurance policy.

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