Earthquakes and Car Insurance

It's important to understand how auto insurance comes into play when a vehicle is damaged in an earthquake, especially if you live in an area where this type of event occurs frequently. You might think that skipping earthquake coverage and playing the odds is worth saving a little bit of money, however this can be a dangerous strategy.

Consider this: Southern California alone experiences approximately 10,000 earthquakes each year. While most of these earthquakes are small and barely felt, the possibility for damage is always there.

Does Auto Insurance Cover Earthquakes?

There is no such thing as earthquake auto insurance. Auto insurance providers lump earthquakes in with a wide variety of other unpredictable scenarios, ranging from fire and natural disasters to vandalism.

You'll need a policy that offers comprehensive coverage if you want to be protected in the event of an earthquake. If you don't opt for comprehensive coverage, you'll have to pay out-of-pocket to repair things, like shattered glass, after an earthquake. In addition, you may be stuck covering the cost of replacing your vehicle if it's damaged beyond repair.

Earthquake-Related Damages Covered by Car Insurance

You might wonder how far coverage goes when your vehicle is damaged in an earthquake. A policy with comprehensive coverage will cover you for several types of earthquake-related damages, potentially resulting from situations like (but not limited to):

  • A tree falling on your car.
  • Chipped paint caused by debris.
  • Broken glass caused by flying objects.
  • Bodily damage caused by a rollover.

There's always a chance the damage sustained during an earthquake will be so extreme that your vehicle will be totaled. Under your comprehensive coverage, you should receive a settlement for the fair market value of your car (before the damage).

Do You Need Earthquake Auto Insurance?

Purchasing a car insurance policy with comprehensive coverage is a smart idea if you live in an area, like Southern California, where earthquakes occur. It's important to purchase the proper amount of coverage even if you don't live on a fault line because damage often spreads far and wide when a major earthquake strikes. Even tremors and aftershocks can cause significant damage to vehicles if the conditions are right.

The bottom line is that it's impossible to shield your vehicle from earthquake damage because you never know when and where one will occur. For this reason, it's a good idea to get ahead of the potential risks and add comprehensive coverage to your policy.

Don't Assume You're Covered

Never assume your policy covers your vehicle for earthquake damage simply because you've opted to purchase comprehensive coverage. Be sure to speak with your agent and ask about the specific types of coverage that are included in your comprehensive policy. At the end of the day, make sure earthquake-related damage is specifically mentioned in your policy.