Does auto insurance cover lightning strikes?


If your auto policy contains comprehensive coverage then you are protected from lightning damage.

Kara McGinley


Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is an editor and licensed home insurance expert at Policygenius, where she writes about homeowners and renters insurance. As a journalist and as an insurance expert, her work and insights have been featured in Kiplinger, Lifehacker, MSN, WRAL.com, and elsewhere.

Published March 18, 2020 | 3 min read

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Key Takeaways

  • The only type of car insurance coverage that will protect you from lighting strikes is comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage is optional coverage that you can add to your auto policy

  • If you lease a car your lender may require you to purchase a minimum amount of comprehensive coverage

  • Lightning strikes can blow your tires, fry your car’s wiring, or injure you or a passenger. Before you file a comprehensive claim for lightning damage, you should determine if the repairs cost less than your deductible. If the repairs are cheaper than your deductible, you’re better off paying out of pocket

  • If you are driving through a lightning storm, you should pull over to the side of the road and try to wait the storm out for as long as possible

Car insurance protects you from financial risks that could occur if you injure someone in a car accident or damage their vehicle or other property. Car insurance can also cover damage to your own car, whether from an accident or a different peril, like fire damage or theft.

If your car gets struck by lightning, whether you’re driving it or it’s parked, the damage can potentially cost thousands of dollars. But when it comes to lightning damage, whether or not car insurance will cover the costs to repair or replace your vehicle will depend on the type of coverage your auto policy contains. If your car insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage, then you will be covered from lightning damage.

Car insurance covers a wide range of situations or circumstances in which you’d be responsible for paying repair bills or medical expenses. An auto insurance policy is made up of multiple coverages that all offer different types of protection, and comprehensive coverage is just one of those components. All but two states require you meet a minimum amount of car insurance coverage in order to legally drive, but drivers likely need far more than their state-required minimums to be adequately covered.

In this article:

When does auto insurance cover lightning strikes?

The type of coverage that would cover damage from lightning strikes is called comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive insurance pays to repair or replace your car if it is damaged or destroyed by a peril that is not a collision. It goes hand-in-hand with collision coverage, which covers damage to your vehicle after a car accident, regardless of who was at fault.

Comprehensive coverage is optional coverage that you can add to your auto policy, meaning states do not require you to have comprehensive coverage. However, comprehensive insurance is an important part of what’s typically referred to as a “full coverage” car insurance.

Some common perils comprehensive insurance covers:

  • Storm damage

  • Falling objects (like a tree falling on your car)

  • Vandalism

  • Theft

  • Animal damage (like if you hit a deer or your car is infested by rodents)

If you don’t have comprehensive coverage as part of your car insurance policy and your car is damaged by any of those perils, you’d be stuck paying out of pocket for damage that could cost hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to fix.

If you lease or finance your car, your lender may require you to purchase a minimum amount of comprehensive and collision insurance with your auto policy anyway. Some insurance companies will sell comprehensive coverage on its own, where other insurance companies will bundle comprehensive insurance with collision insurance.

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How do you file a claim for lightning strikes?

If lightning strikes your car, the amount of damage can either be very minimal or detrimental. Some damages to your vehicle that can result from lighting strikes include:

  • Blown tires

  • Damage to electrical systems

  • Fire damage to the exterior or interior of your car

  • Injury to you or passengers in your car

Before filing a claim, you should determine if it is cheaper to pay out of pocket if the damage is minimal. Comprehensive and collision coverage, unlike other parts of your auto insurance, require you to pay a deductible when you file a claim. If your deductible is more expensive than the repairs needed, you’re probably better off paying out of pocket.

That said, if you do need to file a comprehensive insurance claim, you should contact your car insurance company either in-person, online, over the phone, or through a mobile app. You should document all the lighting strike damage to your vehicle by taking photographs or videos, and record other details like timeline and witness contact information.

Once your claim is accepted, your insurance company will assign you a claims adjuster to work with you through the claims process. This could include working with other parties, too, like a repair shop or your health insurance company if you require medical attention.

Read more about how the process of filing an auto insurance claim.

What to do when driving through lightning

If you are driving and there is a lightning storm, there are a few safety precautions you can take.

  • Pull off to the side of the road

  • Turn on your emergency or hazard lights

  • Turn your car off

  • Secure your doors and windows

  • Wait for the storm to pass