Does Car Insurance cover storm damage?

It might not feel like it at times, but here in the UK we tend to be pretty lucky with weather. We don't get the brutally cold winters our Canadian and Norwegian cousins get. We also don't get the dangerously hot summers they have down in Spain, and we don't get the mega-storms that batter the US coast every year — at least, not often.

But we do get storms. We get high winds and heavy rain, and this can cause havoc of its own. High wind often means falling roof tiles and tree branches, or even whole trees! If your car gets in the way of this debris, it's probably not going to end well.

But does your Car Insurance cover this storm damage? Does your Car Insurance cover other acts of God in the UK? What even is an act of God?

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Storm damage and Car Insurance

Let's get right to it and answer the key question first — is storm damage covered by Car Insurance?

The answer is — usually yes, it can be covered by Car Insurance. However, it depends on what sort of Car Insurance you have, what sort of damage the storm causes, and why.

Often, a comprehensive insurance policy should provide some cover for storm damage to your vehicle. Other types of insurance might also offer cover, but you'll need to check the specific wording of your policy.

Types of storm damage

Storms can cause many different types of damage. Take a look at some of the most common forms of damage below:

Damage caused by high winds

One of the biggest factors of a storm – and one of the things we might think of first in relation to storm damage – is high winds. Here in the UK, we don't tend to get the mega tornadoes, hurricanes, and typhoons seen in other parts of the world, but we still get some pretty heavy winds! The hurricane of 1987 is the famous one, but in recent years, Storm Arwen and Storm Eunice have caused major damage and disruption across wide areas.

While the wind is not likely to be strong enough to flip your car or to damage it directly, it can certainly dislodge heavy objects. Falling roof tiles can cause serious damage to your vehicle, as can falling trees and other natural objects. A car hit by a falling tree is a pretty common insurance claim here in the UK.

Damage caused by flooding

Storms generally feature more than just wind alone. There is also likely to be a lot of rain, and this can cause problems of its own. During an intense storm, your area might get a lot more rain than it would normally experience – often over a very short time. The local water table could get overwhelmed, and all that water can quickly have nowhere to go.

Often people think of protecting their house more than their car when it comes to flood damage, but flooding can certainly damage your car too. Cars are not designed to be underwater, so rising waters can quickly wreak havoc. There's also the debris to think about. Flood waters can carry rubble, mud, fallen trees, and other materials that can seriously damage anything in their path.

Damage caused by snow

Another thing to bear in mind when thinking about storm damage and Car Insurance is snow. When the temperature drops, storms can bring huge amounts of snow with them, covering the landscape, blocking roads, and causing all kinds of trouble. This is particularly common in areas of higher elevation, such as the North Yorkshire Moors, Yorkshire Dales, or Lake District, and tends to get worse the further north you go.

When snow begins to build up, it gets heavy. This can put stress on your car, particularly weaker points like the joints around the windscreen. Melting snow also leads to running water, which can leak into your car and cause damage in this way. Icy surfaces might also cause your car to slip or slide into trouble, and in the UK we often aren’t so prepared for driving in more extreme weather.

Is storm damage covered by Car Insurance?

For your insurance to cover storm damage, there will generally need to be no guilty party involved. In other words, no one was to blame for the storm damage. If a tree blows over in a storm and damages your car, no one is to blame — your insurance provider may cover this damage. If you parked your car under an old dead tree despite repeated warnings that the tree was unsafe, ignoring warning signs to do so, your insurance provider might not cover the damages.

So, let's say your car is parked safely on your drive, but there is heavy wind through the night and an old tree next to your property blows down. Your car is hit by the falling tree and suffers serious damage. This might be covered by insurance — there is no one else involved, simply a weather incident and an old tree. It's not your fault, and it's not anyone else's.

Let's go to the other extreme. Your car is parked on your driveway in just the same way, but this time you're sawing the tree trunk to bring the tree down. You miscalculate, and the tree falls onto your car. The outcome is the same, but it's probably not going to be covered by your Car Insurance. The incident was caused by your direct action.

Of course, reality often isn't quite as black and white as this. What if, in the first example, the tree that blew down was on your property and you had allowed it to become a hazard? Or, what if the tree was not on your property, and your local authority had allowed it to become a risk to the public? In these scenarios, there is potentially someone to blame, and the damage might not be covered by insurance.

What is an act of God?

The phrase isn't used so much any more, but you might still encounter it in insurance policy documents. So what exactly does an act of God mean?

It might be a bit strangely phrased, but an act of God is simply any occurrence that is not directly influenced by humans — i.e., humans had no control over the incident. Just like we've discussed above, weather incidents with no human influence might be considered acts of God – things like storm damage or low-level flooding, as well as more serious hurricanes or typhoons.

A few final tips...

When the wind starts to get up and the temperature starts to plummet, or when it starts to rain or snow, and you're worried about the safety of your car, insurance might provide a bit of peace of mind. Take a look at our final tips for Car Insurance, storm damage, and acts of God:

  • Your Car Insurance might cover storm damage to your vehicle — whether the damage is caused by a falling tree or another factor in the storm, your policy may cover it, but it’s likely you’ll need comprehensive cover.
  • Comprehensive Car Insurance might cover storm damage and acts of God in the UK when the incidents are out of human control, i.e., when there is no one at fault.
  • Your insurance provider could require further investigation just in case there is a guilty party in your case — if there is direct influence from you or another party, the incident may not be covered by insurance.

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.