By: Drew Young and Eliza Tews
Sure, you know to call your car insurance company when you’ve gotten into a fender bender – but what about if your vehicle is damaged by a UFO? Or a volcanic eruption? Luckily, comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle in a wide range of circumstances, whether they’re related to aliens, natural disasters, varmints or other calamities.
Each year, thousands of people in the United States experience damage to their cars due to unusual circumstances. These horror stories are often broadcast on news networks and websites and quickly gain momentum, but no one expects these things to happen to them.
While some may scoff at these stories, it’s important to recognize that these damages can affect almost any vehicle. And if your car gets damaged in a bizarre (or normal) way without the right coverage, you may not be able to pay for repairs – or for an entirely new vehicle.
Comprehensive coverage can be a valuable part of your car insurance policy, providing protection in even the most unique situations. Here are some unusual events that you may not have realized comprehensive insurance covers.
U.S. intelligence sent a report of unidentified aerial phenomena to Congress in 2021, confirming the government’s acknowledgement of UFOs. Whether you live in Washington state, which has the highest number of reported UFO sightings per capita according to the National UFO Reporting Center, or Washington, D.C., which has the lowest, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is covered from any otherworldly damage.
On March 29, 2019, five individuals reported seeing a fireball and various lights pass over the Tennessee night sky. Now imagine those particular lights not only crashing to Earth, but also striking your brand-new car. It wouldn’t be long before your sense of shock and awe turned to despair if you weren’t sure your car insurance policy covered UFO damage. Yet if you had comprehensive coverage, you could continue to marvel at the event, secure in the knowledge that your damages were covered.
The United States Space Based Space Surveillance (SBSS), which is responsible for tracking and identifying artificial objects orbiting Earth, tracked over 15,000 pieces of space debris in 2021. While the vast majority of space junk doesn’t make it to Earth, some of it does – an estimated 500 meteorites per year, in fact. Although a rare occurrence, this is another instance when you’d want your car to be covered under comprehensive insurance at all costs.
On October 9, 1992, teenager Michelle Knapp heard a loud crash from her driveway. Upon investigating, she noticed that a large rock had sliced through her car and created a crater below it. Although local police initially considered it an act of vandalism, it was later determined that vandals couldn’t throw rocks through cars (or create craters). Having your car severely damaged via a meteorite strike is not the way you want to find out your car insurance coverage doesn’t truly account for everything.
Acts of God
According to data from the Insurance Information Institute, Inc. (III), U.S. insurers paid roughly $5.37 billion to cover hail damage claims between 2008 and 2014. This is just one example of how your vehicle can be destroyed by an “act of God.” While these instances are more common than some of the other situations highlighted in this article, it’s not every day that your car is pelted with golf-ball-sized hail or swept away by the raging winds of a tornado.
One auto shop in the small town of Madisonville, Kentucky, is still receiving heavily damaged cars to repair from a tornado that ravaged its community over six months prior. While the severity and regularity of these natural events greatly varies across the United States, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is covered when nature decides to let loose.
According to the 2019 American Housing Survey, 14.8 million people reported sightings of rodents in their homes. Many experts believe the increased presence of rodents is due to warmer winters. Whatever the cause may be, rodent activity doesn’t stop at your home – it can affect your vehicle as well.
One resident of Washington, D.C., was surprised to find that rats had chewed through her car’s wiring and defecated in the air vents, resulting in $300 of damage. While you may believe this couldn’t happen to you based on where you live, rodent populations are rising. Make sure you’re covered against rodent damages before those pesky little critters render your vehicle useless overnight.
Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, causing widespread destruction and an estimated $31 million in insured losses. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Mount St. Helens is the volcano most likely to erupt again in the United States. Although this might not happen anytime soon, you never know when you’ll need coverage for a catastrophic event such as this.
During the 2018 eruption of Kilauea in Puna, Hawaii, residents’ homes and cars were slowly consumed by the lava. If you’re not careful, your car could end up like the Hawaii resident whose car was slowly overwhelmed by molten rock. Volcanoes can easily engulf your property in lava, leaving you without a vehicle or adequate funds to purchase a replacement if you don’t have coverage.
While the likelihood of experiencing a sinkhole varies based on where you live, around 20% of the United States is susceptible to them, according to the USGS. Even if you live in an area with a lower probability of sinkholes, there’s still a decent chance you or someone you know could be affected by one – so you want to make sure your auto insurance covers such possibilities.
One morning in August of 2021, a resident of Palm Harbor, Florida, discovered their car had been swallowed by a sinkhole while parked in the driveway. Alongside the sedan, which was resting nose-first in the sinkhole, a parked pickup truck sat inches away from falling in as well. Sinkholes could appear almost anywhere, even in places close to home. By making sure your vehicle has comprehensive coverage, you can rest assured that a sinkhole will not swallow up all the money in your bank account.
Make Sure You’re Covered, Whatever the Situation
Whether your car is struck by space debris or flowing lava, you want to make sure you have protection for any situation that may arise. Comprehensive coverage, although optional, covers almost anything you can think of that’s not a typical collision. While some of the cases listed here may be extreme, having peace of mind that a sudden, strange event won’t leave you with empty pockets is unbeatable.