Is auto insurance in effect during a state of emergency?

Check your policy to see if emergencies affect your coverage. If you have an accident while breaking the law, your auto insurance provider can refuse your claim.

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
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UPDATED: Apr 20, 2020

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Things to Remember...

  • You need to be aware of the terms and conditions of your auto insurance policy
  • States of emergency can occur at both local and federal levels
  • The most common state of emergency occurs due bad weather

Your auto insurance is in effect all of the time, as long as you have paid your bill. There is no situation in which your auto insurance company can stop covering your vehicle without prior notice, including a state of emergency.

When you purchase auto insurance, you are essentially entering into a binding agreement with your insurance company. This agreement states that the insurance company will pay for damages to your car based on the type of coverage that you have purchased.

When you purchase an auto insurance policy, you do need to be aware of all of the terms and conditions associated with your policy.

If somewhere on the policy it stipulates that during a state of emergency that your insurance coverage is null, then you are out of luck. That is why understanding your insurance policy is so important.

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What is a state of emergency?

A state of emergency occurs when the government suspends government services; this can occur at federal or state levels. In addition, a state of emergency can also include the closing down of businesses, churches and non-profit organizations.

For US states, the most common state of emergency occurs due to bad weather.

For example, in Florida, after they experienced several large hurricanes one right after another, Governor Bush enacted a state of emergency requiring all businesses be closed by 9 pm prior to the hurricane’s arrival and that everyone stays indoors.

What many people don’t realize is that there has been a national state of emergency in effect since 9/11. While no businesses are closed and the government is still running, this is in place just in case there is a terrorist threat again.

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What if I’m in an accident during a state of emergency that requires no one to be on the road?

If you have a car accident while breaking the law, there is a strong possibility that your insurance company will refuse to pay your claim, and they will have legal standing to do so.

During that time, martial law can be placed in effect. Both businesses and individuals are required to abide by the restrictions stipulated during the state of emergency, with the exception of emergency services.

The other exception here is if you have an emergency that requires you to be on the road.

For example, you have someone who is hurt and an ambulance can’t get to your location in a timely manner.

In this case, you may have to make your case with the insurance company in order to get your auto insurance claim paid. If you have a legitimate emergency, then there should be no issues with the claim.

If this does happen, you may have to get the police officer involved to write a letter for you or meet with the mediator and your insurance company to explain why you were on the road.

If you are out of milk or something like that, don’t expect to get the payment that you want!

Will the insurance company cover my claim if my car is stolen during a state of emergency?

This will depend on the type of insurance you have. If you only carry liability insurance, then the answer is no, the insurance company won’t cover your loss.

That is because liability insurance isn’t protection for your car; it’s protection for others should you be the cause of an accident.

If your car is stolen and the thief causes an accident, your insurance company isn’t responsible for paying that claim, in the case of liability only insurance.

If you have comprehensive insurance and your car is stolen, then the insurance company will pay your claim. That is because comprehensive coverage covers the theft of your vehicle.

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References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonprofit_organization
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martial_law
  3. https://www.nationwide.com/towing-coverage-reimbursement.jsp
  4. https://www.libertymutual.com/auto/car-insurance-coverage/bodily-injury-liability
  5. https://www.esurance.com/info/car/myth-comprehensive-covers-everything

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