Auto insurance protects you from having to pay to repair your car if you’re in an accident. But if a natural event such as lightning or a windstorm damages your car, your policy will cover damage costs from “acts of God” if you have the right type of coverage.
What is Act of God Coverage?
Act of God coverage is comprehensive auto insurance that protects you from unexpected events you cannot predict or prevent. The phrases “act of God,” or “act of nature,” might not appear in your auto insurance policy. Still, your policy lists related coverages, such as wildfires, lightning strikes, windstorms, hail and earthquakes, ice, wildfires, and sinkholes.
If you lease a car or have an auto loan, lenders require you to carry comprehensive insurance, which includes act of God coverage. However, comprehensive insurance is optional if you own the car. Drivers usually purchase comprehensive insurance alongside collision coverage, which covers damage from hitting another car or object, and liability insurance, which covers injuries or damage to someone else’s property if you’re at fault in an accident. Full coverage auto insurance means carrying collision, comprehensive, and liability protection.
What Does Act of God Insurance Cover?
Besides acts of God such as natural disasters, comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car from causes other than collisions. These include hitting an animal, fire, riots and vandalism, theft, and fallen objects like tree branches or ice.
Comprehensive insurance will cover hurricane damage to your vehicle once your deductible is met. It’s important to note, though, that you cannot buy it if a storm is on the way.
When a storm is imminent, most insurers restrict adding new coverage in the affected area. If you live in a place prone to hurricanes, add comprehensive coverage before your area’s hurricane season.
Comprehensive coverage pays for damages to your vehicle following an earthquake. For example, if a tree falls on your car or the ground moves, swallowing your car into a hole, insurance may cover up to the current value of the vehicle or the policy limits, whichever is lower.
Floods can cause extensive damage to cars. Wet carpets and upholstery can grow mold, and water can destroy your car’s electrical circuits. If you have comprehensive insurance, it may include flood insurance and pay for repairs due to flood damage. Note that, like with hurricanes, you cannot buy comprehensive insurance when a storm is on the way.
Hail damage to your car can range from a broken windshield or a few dents on the hood to a total loss. Your comprehensive auto coverage pays for hail damage once your deductible is met.
The nation’s largest home and auto insurer reports that in 2020, Texas had the most hail claims, followed by Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri.
One act of God covered by comprehensive insurance is fire damage to your car caused by natural disasters. If a wildfire burns your car, your policy should cover it if your comprehensive coverage policy is in place before the fire.
Types of Car Insurance That Cover Acts of God
Other types of insurance besides comprehensive can cover disaster-related claims that fall under acts of God. Your insurer could decide that a claim you filed is another type of loss. If you don’t have comprehensive coverage, other types of auto insurance might cover damages from natural disasters.
Collision coverage repairs or replaces your car after a crash into another vehicle or a stationary object, like a guardrail. This insurance pays for repairs regardless of who is at fault. If a disaster causes your car to collide with a building or another vehicle, collision coverage might pay for the repair if you do not have comprehensive coverage.
As mentioned, comprehensive coverage pays for damages to your car from causes other than collisions. If you lease a car or have an auto loan, lenders require you to have comprehensive coverage. If you own the car, it is optional. Comprehensive insurance pays for damages from acts of nature. Other covered perils include hitting an animal, theft, vandalism, and falling objects.
If you are at fault in an accident, liability insurance covers damage to the other vehicle. This includes property damage liability to pay for the other person’s vehicle or property and bodily injury liability coverage to pay for injuries. Almost all states require drivers to have liability coverage. If you are at fault in an accident during an act of God, your liability insurance would pay for the other driver’s damages up to your policy limit.
Other Types of Car Insurance Coverage That May Help
Other types of coverage can reduce your losses if an act of God damages your car. These add-ons are not part of disaster coverage, and you’ll have to pay extra. The coverage is valuable, however, particularly for drivers without comprehensive coverage.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) covers medical expenses, up to your coverage limits, regardless of who is at fault. Sometimes, PIP also covers lost wages. PIP covers only injuries related to a car accident.
When you buy a new vehicle, it loses value as soon as it leaves the car dealer. According to the Insurance Institute of America, most cars lose 20 percent of their value within a year. Your loan could be more than the car’s market value if you finance it with a small down payment.
In that case, the insurance payout would be less than the amount you owe if your car is totaled. You’d have a car payment for a vehicle that no longer exists. Gap insurance covers the difference between what you owe and what the car is currently worth to let you pay off your auto loan in full.
If an act of nature leaves your car undrivable, roadside assistance can help. This service covers towing, changing tires, jump starts, delivering gas or a new battery, and more. Check with your insurer to see how far they’ll tow your car for free. You’ll pay extra to tow it longer distances.