Does auto insurance cover lightning strikes?

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

Kara McGinleyRachael Brennan headshot

By

Kara McGinley

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley is a senior 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.

&Rachael Brennan

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

Updated|3 min read

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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, theft, and yes, lightning strikes.

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If your car gets struck by lightning, whether you’re driving it or it’s parked, the damage can potentially cost thousands of dollars. If your car insurance policy includes comprehensive coverage, then you will be covered from lightning damage.

Key takeaways

  • The only type of car insurance coverage that will protect you from lighting strikes is comprehensive coverage. 

  • If you finance or 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.

  • 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.

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 an 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 “full coverage” car insurance.

Some common perils comprehensive insurance covers:

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.

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. While your car won’t explode if it is hit by lightning, it can still be damaged. 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 comprehensive 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

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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

When are lightning strikes not covered by car insurance?

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, including liability insurance, comprehensive coverage, and collision coverage, but comprehensive is the only part of car insurance that would cover lightning strikes. Drivers who don’t have comprehensive coverage won’t be covered for damage caused by lightning.

All but two states require you meet a minimum amount of car insurance coverage in order to legally drive, but no state requires drivers to buy comprehensive and collision coverage. 

Drivers likely need far more than their state-required minimums to be adequately covered, and drivers who are concerned about natural perils like flood damage and lightning strikes need to purchase comprehensive coverage to make sure those are covered by their insurance.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if lightning hits my car?

Your car will likely be damaged if it is hit by lightning. Beyond damage to the site where the lightning struck, you may also have melted parts, pitting where tiny pieces of metal burned away, shattered windows, or your car may even catch on fire. It will also damage the electric components of your car, so you may find that your car doesn’t run correctly if it has been hit by lightning.

How do you prove car insurance damage from lightning?

There are several ways to prove your car was damaged by lightning, including photos, videos, and having your mechanic give you something in writing explaining why the damage to your car was most likely caused by a lightning strike.

How can I tell if my car was hit by lightning?

A car that has been struck by lightning may have obvious damage, like scorch marks, peeled paint, and shattered windows. Other damage isn’t so obvious, like electrical problems or the car not starting properly. If you think it is possible your car may have been struck by lightning you should have it looked at by a mechanic right away.

Can you survive a lightning strike in a car?

According to the National Weather Service, cars with metal frames and hardtop roofs can keep you safe from a lightning strike (as long as you aren’t leaning on the frame of the car) but convertibles and vehicles with fiberglass frames offer no protection from lightning.

Authors

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

Kara McGinley

Senior Editor & Licensed Home Insurance Expert

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Kara McGinley is a senior 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.

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

gray linkedin icon link

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

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