How to File a Claim for Damage from a Natural Disaster

Farmer standing in flooded corn field with rubber boots

There is no doubt that a true natural disaster can cause significant damage to your car. You may find yourself overwhelmed in the moments after the event. What should you do? What can you do to ensure you get your vehicle repaired? If Mother Nature has you wondering what to do next, consider these helpful tips and resources.

#1: Verify If You Have Coverage

Not all drivers have coverage for a natural disaster. In some situations, your comprehensive auto insurance policy will cover the losses from this type of event. However, there are limits here. This type of insurance covers things like weather-related events. It also may cover “acts of God,” a term used to describe some types of natural disasters. Most often, it will cover things like storm damage, tornadoes, and hurricanes.

#2: Take the Time to Document What Happened

Even if you are unsure you have coverage, you need to be able to show your car insurance agent the details of what happened. Though the agent may be available to visit your location, others are happy with just getting photos to verify what occurred. Be sure to document the entire vehicle, on all sides, and the interior. Be sure that you take pictures of the car’s significant damage. Then, contact your agent to learn your next steps.

#3: Be Ready to Pay the Deductible

Keep in mind that most auto insurance policies have a deductible. This is the amount of money you have to pay towards the claim. The insurance company then pays the rest, up to your coverage limit. Deductibles can be a big factor for some people. That’s why it is best to keep them only at a level you can afford to pay.

#4: Wait for Your Agent’s Approval

You may just want to get your vehicle into a shop for repairs. However, the agent has to approve that decision to ensure they will pay to repair the car. In some cases, they may want you to bring the vehicle for an inspection to their approved mechanic. (You can often still get the work done by your own later if you need to). The insurer will decide whether to repair or total the car.

#5: Get the Funding to Move Forward

Your auto insurance company will help you with getting the repairs. Keep in mind that they may approve damage related to the natural disaster itself only. In other words, if you have damage from normal wear and tear, that may not be a part of your claim.

Natural disaster coverage on your car insurance is likely available to you. This applies to only comprehensive auto insurance, though.

FAQ’s About How to File a Claim for Damage from a Natural Disaster

How do I know if my insurance policy covers damage from a natural disaster?

Your insurance policy should specify the types of natural disasters it covers. Review your policy documents or contact your insurance agent to confirm coverage.

What steps should I take immediately after a natural disaster to ensure my claim is processed smoothly?

Document the damage with photos, contact your insurance company as soon as possible, and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.

Will my insurance company require any specific documentation when filing a claim for natural disaster damage?

Yes, you will likely need to provide documentation such as photos of the damage, receipts for any temporary repairs, and a detailed list of damaged items.

How long do I have to file a claim for natural disaster damage?

The time frame for filing a claim varies by insurance company and policy, but it’s important to file as soon as possible after the disaster.

What should I do if my home is uninhabitable due to natural disaster damage?

Contact your insurance company to discuss temporary housing options and additional living expenses coverage included in your policy.

Will my insurance rates increase if I file a claim for natural disaster damage?

Filing a claim for natural disaster damage typically won’t directly impact your rates, as these events are considered acts of nature.

Can I choose my own contractors to make repairs after a natural disaster, or does my insurance company have a preferred list of vendors?

You can typically choose your own contractors, but it’s important to check with your insurance company to understand any requirements or recommendations.

What if I disagree with the assessment of my natural disaster damage claim by the insurance company?

You can appeal the decision and provide additional evidence to support your claim, or seek assistance from a public adjuster if needed.

Does my insurance policy cover landscaping and outdoor property damaged by a natural disaster?

Some policies may include coverage for landscaping and outdoor property, so it’s important to review your policy or consult with your insurance agent.

Are there any government assistance programs available for natural disaster damage if my insurance coverage is insufficient?

Depending on the severity of the disaster, there may be federal or state assistance programs available to supplement insurance coverage for natural disaster damage.

What types of natural disasters are typically not covered by insurance?

While most natural disasters are covered by insurance, there are some that may not be covered. The following are some natural disasters that may not be covered by insurance:

    • Floods: Most standard homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover flood damage. You may need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy to protect your home and belongings from flood damage.
    • Earthquakes: Most standard homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover earthquake damage. You may need to purchase a separate earthquake insurance policy to protect your home and belongings from earthquake damage.
    • Sinkholes: Most standard homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover sinkhole damage. You may need to purchase a separate sinkhole insurance policy to protect your home and belongings from sinkhole damage.

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