Does my car insurance cover natural disasters?
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UPDATED: Feb 7, 2019
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When you purchase car insurance, you want to be assured that you have the right type and amounts of insurance. You want to make sure you are meeting the legal requirements for auto insurance and also that you are covered no matter what type of accident or unforeseen event may occur. You may be wondering if your auto insurance policy covers natural disasters.
The good news is that you have options that can cover you in the event that your car is damaged or ruined due to a natural disaster.
The bad news is that you will likely pay a higher premium for that, in addition to what you are already paying for the legally required amounts of car insurance. If you need to research lower auto insurance rates, consider using an online insurance price comparison tool. These tools make it simple and easy for you to shop around for auto insurance and ensure that you are getting the best prices available on the coverage that you need. Compare car insurance rates by using our FREE tool above!
The Anatomy of an Insurance Policy
In order to find out if your car insurance policy covers natural disasters, you need to understand the different portions of an auto policy. Each portion covers particular circumstances and damages arising from those circumstances. You should think of your auto insurance policy as several different policies bundled into one that provide you with total protection if you elect them all. Here are the different portions available on an auto insurance policy:
- Bodily Injury Liability: Liability coverage is the minimum amount of insurance that most states require. Bodily injury liability covers medical expenses or expenses related to the death of someone that you were in an accident with and found at fault. It does not cover your expenses.
- Property Liability: Similar to bodily injury liability, property liability covers damages to others that you may cause. However, this portion of your liability policy covers property damage and loss, such as a vehicle or structure.
- Collision: Although not required by law, collision coverage is a vital piece of your auto insurance policy. Collision coverage covers damage to your vehicle if it collides with another vehicle or object, such as a telephone pole, tree, or a structure. It will pay for repairs, or to help replace your vehicle. You can select your own policy limits and deductible with this type of coverage. If you lease your vehicle or still have an active loan, you may be contractually required to have collision coverage.
- Comprehensive: As with collision coverage, many lenders and leasing companies want their customers to have comprehensive coverage. You can also choose your own deductible and policy limits with collision coverage. The difference between collision and comprehensive coverage, however, is that comprehensive covers circumstances outside of a collision with a vehicle or object. For instance, if you car is vandalized or stolen, comprehensive coverage will be needed to recoup your losses. Comprehensive coverage also extends to hitting wildlife and to natural disasters and fires. If you have a comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy, you car insurance company will generally cover damage to your vehicle caused by a natural disaster.
- Med Pay: Med Pay, also known as medical payments or personal injury protection is designed to cover your medical expenses in an accident or those of your passengers. In some cases, it can also cover lost wages and help that you need to hire around the home as a direct result of the accident.
- Gap: Gap insurance is designed for people who are leasing their car or are still paying on their car loan. Sometimes it can be purchased along with the aforementioned insurance policy portions and sometimes it is purchased from the leasing or loan company. In the event that your car is totaled, gap coverage will pay the difference between what your auto insurance company feels is the fair market value of your vehicle and what is still owed on your lease agreement or loan.
- Uninsured/Underinsured motorist (UM/UIM): Unfortunately, not everyone who drives takes their insurance responsibility seriously. The Uninsured/Underinsured motorist portion of your auto policy will come into play if you are ever in an accident with another motorist who does not have auto insurance or does not have sufficient coverage. In some states, this is required and in others, it is used in place of Med Pay.
- Road Side Assistance: While not absolutely necessary, many auto insurance companies also offer roadside assistance coverage. This type of coverage can be utilized if you should get a flat tire, run out of gas, need a jump start, or have another vehicle problem while traveling on the road.
- Rental Car Reimbursement: Another elective portion of your auto insurance policy is that of rental car coverage. This coverage is convenient and possibly cost-effective as it will help pay for your use of a rental car if your own vehicle is damaged and awaiting repairs or if you are waiting to find out if it is totaled. Most rental car reimbursement policies have a limit of around $30 per day and will provide coverage for up to 30 days.
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How do I file a claim?
Now that you know your car insurance will likely cover a natural disaster if you have elected comprehensive coverage on your auto policy, you may be wondering how to file a claim. take pictures of your vehicle in the position and condition that you found it. Take notes about where your car was parked and what happened to it. You will want to
Make sure you take pictures of your vehicle in the position and condition that you found it, and take notes about where your car was parked and what happened to it.
You will want to contact your insurance agent or company to report your claim as soon as possible. This is because claims are usually processed on a first-come-first-serve basis and if there has been a lot of damage from a natural disaster in your area you insurance company will likely be very busy tending to these claims for a while.
What if I Do Not Have Comprehensive Coverage?
If your car has been damaged in a natural disaster or weather-related event and you do not have comprehensive coverage, all hope may not be lost. Check with your homeowners or renters insurance policy, as sometimes your car may be covered under them. If not, find out if there is financial assistance available for people involved in your specific natural disaster.
Although car insurance can take a toll on your monthly budget, having the protection it affords can be priceless if you are in an accident or faced with a natural disaster. If you need to find auto insurance that is more affordable, check out an online insurance comparison calculator. These tools help you to easily compare policies and quotes. Once you have your no-obligation quotes, you can make a decision that is best for your vehicle and financial situation. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to compare car insurance rate now!