Does auto insurance cover lightning strikes?

Car insurance does cover lightning strikes if you have comprehensive insurance. This type of coverage pays for damages related to weather and other incidents that don't involve a collision. Learn how to get covered for this scenario.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

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, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Jun 10, 2022

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Things to remember...

  • Planning for lightning strikes is difficult as they happen without warning
  • You can protect yourself and your car by taking precautions when a strike occurs
  • The right type of car insurance can compensate you for damages from a lightning strike

Lightning strikes can be frightening, can happen without warning, and can cause significant damage. Does car insurance cover lightning strikes?

If your car is struck by lightning while driving or while parked, your car insurance should cover any damage if you have a comprehensive policy. You can also take steps to keep yourself safe if lightning starts hitting nearby where you are driving. These actions can also minimize damage to your car.

You should review your policy documents to verify what damages your insurance company will pay for if lightning hits your vehicle.

Will car insurance cover a lightning strike?

Damages from lightning strikes can be costly and render your vehicle inoperable. Car insurance can help cover the cost, so you want to make sure you have a policy that will pay for a repair or replacement of your car.

A basic liability policy meets state minimum insurance requirements and pays claims for damages you cause to other persons. However, a liability policy will not cover damages from lightning strikes. You will need a different type of auto insurance coverage to cover lightning damage.

Comprehensive insurance is the only type of coverage that will pay for damage from lightning strikes. This type of coverage also pays for damages from theft, vandalism, and other storm events.

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Getting Insurance Compensation for Lightning Damage

You will need to file a claim to report any damage from a lightning strike. Resources are available that explain how to file a car insurance claim.

You can expect the insurance company to scrutinize your filing. In some instances, the source of the damage may be hard to determine, especially if the damage was to the vehicle’s electrical system.

Gather any evidence you can, including weather reports from the day of the event.

What types of damages can occur from lightning strikes?

Lightning strikes can cause minor or significant damage to your vehicle. When lightning is traveling from the sky to the ground, it can cause the temperature of the surrounding air to soar to much hotter than the surface of the sun. By creating all this heat, lightning can leave burn marks on your car. These burns are usually cosmetic but can be severe and cause impairment of your vehicle’s structure.

As lightning travels along its path to the ground, the force of the electricity can cause your tires to blow out as a strike goes through them.

If your car gets struck by lightning and you do not see any apparent damage outside, there may still be damage to your vehicle’s electrical system. Lightning contains millions of times more voltage than a standard electrical outlet, so the charge from a strike can be destructive. You may notice that the car will not start or specific components do not function properly. Lightning strikes that fit your vehicle’s electrical system can also cause fires and associated burn damage to other vehicle components.

Misconceptions About Cars and Lightning Strikes

You may have heard that your car is the safest place during a lightning strike. Many people believe this is because the rubber in the vehicle’s tires will prevent the lightning from hitting the ground. However, this is not the case, as lightning is traveling at too great a force for your tires to prevent it from hitting the earth’s surface.

Your car is more likely to protect you due to the metal contained throughout the vehicle. The metal will absorb any electrical strike and divert its path to the ground.

The event of a car being struck by lightning does not happen very often, but it can cause damage to the vehicle and anyone in it.

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Safety Tips for Driving During Lightning Strikes

You may be on your way home when an unexpected storm occurs, or you may see lightning strike out of the clear blue sky. Lightning strikes are unpredictable, and you cannot necessarily avoid being behind the wheel when they happen.

When lightning strikes, the best course of action is not to be in contact with any part of the vehicle that is connected to the exterior, including the steering wheel. If you see lightning, you should park your vehicle in a safe location and take the following steps:

  • Turn on your hazard lights to make your parked vehicle more visible
  • Keeps your hands off any metal parts of the car or anything with a connection to outside parts
  • Shut down the engine and wait for the storm to pass

While you may not be able to prevent lightning from happening while you are driving, you can do your best to protect yourself.

Final Thoughts on Auto Insurance Coverage for Lightning Strikes

A lightning strike can occur unexpectedly and cause significant damage to your car. Your insurance company will not cover the damage unless you have comprehensive coverage.

Even with comprehensive coverage, you can expect scrutiny of your claim to confirm that the damage was caused by lightning. You can shop around for the best rates and highest-rated companies for paying claims.

If you are out driving when a lightning storm occurs, you can take steps to mitigate any risk to yourself or your vehicle.

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