Definition of “Acts of God” for Car Insurance

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Here's what you need to know...
  • Acts of God are earthquakes, hurricanes, hail storms, and even animals that might cause an accident
  • Comprehensive insurance covers acts of God, but exactly which acts are covered depends on the provider’s policies
  • Coverage for acts of God is not part of standard liability policies
  • If a driver is liable for an accident, he/she can’t be covered under an Act of God clause

In the insurance world, an act of God is a particular event in which the human participants have absolutely no influence or control over either cause or effect.

Simply put, acts of God are considered things like earthquakes, hurricanes, hail storms, and even animals that might cross your path and cause an accident.

Most car insurance policies that provide collision and comprehensive coverage will pay for acts of God because there are no other incident participants who can be held liable.

To learn how your state handles these situations, you can go to your state’s official insurance website. Certain states with more unpredictable weather, like Florida with hurricanes and California with earthquakes, will handle acts of God differently than states with milder weather.

To see the differences, you can visit the official insurance site for Florida and also for California.

Searching for auto insurance quotes online doesn’t need to be difficult. We make it simple when you enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool above!

What are the main types of car insurance coverage?
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– Comprehensive

Comprehensive insurance is the type of coverage that pays for the damage to a policyholder’s car that was not caused by a collision.

Comprehensive will cover things like vandalism, fire, hail damage, hitting an animal, and the wind.

Exactly which acts of God the provider will cover depends on that company’s policies.

When choosing a new provider, the policyholder should discuss which situations would not be covered.

Other types of car insurance coverage include liability insurance, collision insurance, personal injury protection insurance, and uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance. All of these types are very important coverage to have.

– Liability

Liability insurance pays for the costs of other drivers and passengers that are injured or have a vehicle damaged in an accident caused by the policyholder. Liability coverage is typically divided into two categories — bodily injury and property damage — that are pretty self-explanatory.

– Collision

Collision coverage is usually combined with comprehensive coverage. Collision insurance covers the damage to the policyholder’s car when it is damaged in a collision. It can be a collision with another car, a tree, or building.

–Personal injury protection (PIP)

Personal injury protection insurance covers the medical costs of the policyholder if they are physically injured in an accident. This insurance provides coverage no matter who causes the accident; thus, it is often known as no-fault insurance.

Personal injury protection is of particular importance for those who have no health insurance to pay for medical costs.

– Uninsured and Underinsured

Uninsured and underinsured insurance coverage offers the policyholder a safety net if they are in an accident with someone who does not have an adequate amount of insurance.

There are a lot of people in this economy who have cut back on their car insurance coverage as a way to save money on their monthly premiums. If you are in an accident caused by one of these people, you might have to pay part of the costs yourself.

If you are in an accident with someone with no car insurance and you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you might get stuck paying all of the incurred costs yourself. Uninsured motorist coverage is also the kind that will protect you if you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident.

What is the best way to find a new car insurance provider?
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When looking for a new insurance provider, the best thing you can do is compare as many companies as possible. Most people just consider the monthly rates when choosing a new company, but there are many other things to consider.

An insurance company can have the lowest rates but also be known for being difficult to deal with when it comes to filing claims. It might be worth a little more each month to have an insurance provider that is easier to work with.

To help make a well-informed decision, the policyholder should consult consumer rating sites such as the Better Business Bureau and consumer satisfaction survey companies like J.D. Power and Associates.

Many people stick with the same car insurance provider they have always had just because they are used to that company, but this could end up costing them a lot of money. A policyholder’s needs change over time because his/her life changes.

They might not realize that certain life changes may require them to need more coverage or that they are eligible for certain discounts they were not before. They should take a look at their insurance needs every couple years or so.

As an interesting side note, it’s curious that in a culture that’s becoming increasingly intolerant of religious belief, the term “act of God” is still being used.

The sole use of this term is slowly changing, though, as demonstrated by Hertz’s Protection Plans literature. It has inserted “acts of nature” in addition to “acts of God,” perhaps as a means of covering all of its bases.

According to the American Journal of Public Health’s “Accident and acts of God: a history of terms,” use of the phrase goes back to seventeenth-century public health policy. It didn’t become a legal term until the 1800s. Regardless, acts of God are a recognized reality in the car insurance world.

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Am I protected against such occurrences with standard liability coverage?

Coverage for acts of God or nature is not part of standard liability policies. Liability, by its definition, only covers property damage and bodily injury for which you are held responsible.

For example, if you carried just the minimum liability required by your state, you would not be covered for full replacement of your car if a hurricane washed it out to sea. In order to have that type of protection, you need comprehensive coverage.

Likewise, you need collision coverage to replace your vehicle or repair it after an accident.

One possible exception to this rule would be an accident involving a deer or other large animal. In the case where such an accident resulted in bodily injury to you or a passenger or property damage to a local residence, your minimum liability would cover those things.

Note that if the bodily injury or property damage claims exceed your coverage limits, you will be responsible for paying the balance out of pocket. If you don’t have the cash on hand, certain assets can be seized and sold.

Why are deer accidents acts of God, while accidents involving other people are not?
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This question is often used to point out the disagreement some people have with acts of God clauses in insurance policies. Despite criticisms, there is an important and distinct difference.

The deer involved in an accident is completely outside the control of any human beings involved.

The driver of the car could not have prevented the deer from being near the road, nor could he have prevented the deer from jumping out in front of his car.

The same cannot be said in accidents involving other human beings.

When multiple people are involved, each one of them has control over his/her actions. Therefore, even if you had no influence or control over the driver you hit because he pulled out in front of you against a red light, he still had control over his actions.

Your car insurance company will go after him and his provider to cover the costs of the accident because he had control. Your insurance company won’t cover your costs under an Act of God clause because the other driver is liable.

Why do insurance companies still use the term if it causes disagreement?

Because it is impossible to spell out each and every scenario that could cause an insurance claim, car insurance companies need a comprehensive term to take care of anything that’s not specifically addressed, which is why acts of God clauses exist.

Also, there are some circumstances that cannot be easily explained — circumstances where it’s nearly impossible to assign liability.

A clause including acts of God and nature satisfies the conditions and keeps the courts free of frivolous litigation.

For most people, the acts of God terminology is entirely innocuous. As long as your collision and comprehensive insurance covers repair and replacement of your vehicle regardless of the circumstances, you have nothing to worry about.

And by the way, if you have a significant amount of valuable assets you want to protect, full collision and comprehensive coverage is a must. You might even consider an umbrella policy equal in value to your total assets, just in case your car insurance company won’t cover the full cost of an act of God or nature.

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