Does Car Insurance Cover Snow Damage? What Drivers Need To Know

Heavy snow and winter storms can cause significant damage to vehicles. But does car insurance provide coverage for snow-related damage? The short answer is – it depends on your policy.

Certain types of auto insurance policies and optional add-ons can cover certain snow-induced damages. But not all winter-weather damage is covered. Understanding exactly what your car insurance does and does not protect against when it comes to snow can help ensure you have adequate protection.

Below we’ll break down the key facts on how standard auto insurance policies respond to snow damage, what additional coverage options may be beneficial for winter driving, and tips for preventing issues in the first place.

Does Comprehensive Insurance Cover Snow Damage?

Comprehensive coverage, which is an optional addition to basic liability insurance, covers damage to your vehicle from incidents other than collisions. This includes:

  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Hail
  • Falling objects
  • Animal collisions

Importantly for winter driving, comprehensive insurance also covers damage from natural forces and weather events outside of collisions. This means if heavy snow causes something like:

  • A tree branch to fall on your car
  • Accumulated snow or ice to crush your roof
  • An avalanche that damages your vehicle

Then comprehensive insurance would provide coverage, subject to your deductible and policy limits.

So for the majority of snow-related non-collision damage, adding comprehensive to your policy is key. Without it, you could be faced with expensive out-of-pocket repair bills or even total loss of your vehicle.

Does Collision Insurance Cover Snow Damage?

Collision coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle when it’s damaged in an accident with another car, object or if you roll your vehicle over. But what about collisions specifically caused by snow or ice?

In these cases, collision insurance will also provide coverage, again subject to deductible and limits. For example, if you slide on ice and hit a guardrail, plow into a snowbank, or collide with another car in a snow-induced fender bender, collision insurance will cover the damages.

So comprehensive pays for snow damage outside of collisions, while collision covers snow-related crash damage. It’s important to note that liability insurance alone won’t cover any physical damage to your vehicle from snow, as its sole purpose is to pay for injuries or damage you cause to others when an accident is your fault.

Additional Coverage Options for Snow Damage

Beyond comprehensive and collision insurance, some other add-ons that can be beneficial for snow-prone areas include:

Rental reimbursement – Covers the cost of a rental car if your vehicle is inoperable due to snow damage during repairs.

Roadside assistance – Provides access to services like towing which may be needed after snow-related breakdowns or accidents.

Gap insurance – If your car is totaled by snow damage, gap coverage pays the difference between what comprehensive insurance covers and what you still owe on your auto loan.

New car replacement – If your new car is totaled in its first year or two by snow, this add-on pays to replace it entirely rather than just cover the depreciated value.

Your insurer can advise on which combinations of coverage provide the most complete protection from potential snow damage in your region.

Does Car Insurance Cover Damage From Lack of Snow Removal?

What if snow left uncleared by others contributes to damage to your vehicle? For example:

  • Your bumper is ripped off by a snow plow ridge at the end of a driveway
  • You hit an unmarked fire hydrant buried under plowed snow
  • Heavy roof snow falls onto your vehicle parked in an uncovered lot

In these scenarios, the other parties – such as the property owner or snow plow operator – may actually bear responsibility through negligence. You would need to claim against their liability insurance policy or pursue legal action to be compensated for damages in these types of situations.

Key Exclusions – Damage Car Insurance Won’t Cover

While comprehensive and collision insurance provide broad protection against snow-related damages, most standard policies do have some exclusions to be aware of:

  • Pre-existing damage – If your car already had prior dents or damage, snow won’t be covered as the cause. The snow must directly induce the new damage.

  • Mechanical damage – Internal damage to components like your engine from driving in heavy snow is generally excluded.

  • Driving restrictions – Disobeying winter storm warnings or driving restrictions can lead to a claim denial.

  • Improper maintenance – Failing to adequately prepare your car for winter with snow tires, antifreeze, etc. may exclude coverage.

  • Regular wear and tear – Gradual damage from winter driving doesn’t qualify. Snow-induced damage must be sudden and direct, like from an accident.

It’s important to read your full policy terms to be aware of any exclusions like these that may apply.

Tips To Prevent Snow Damage

The best way to avoid extensive and costly snow damage is prevention. Here are some key tips:

  • Install snow tires for enhanced traction and control. All-season tires won’t cut it.
  • Check antifreeze levels and keep windshield washer fluid full.
  • Fully clear snow and ice off your vehicle before driving.
  • Park in covered areas when possible.
  • Be vigilant for falling snow or icicles from roofs and trees.
  • Slow down and avoid abrupt maneuvers on snowy roads.
  • Don’t venture out unnecessarily during blizzards or if your car isn’t properly equipped for heavy snow.

Talk To Your Provider About Snow Damage Coverage

At the end of the day, your exact auto policy provisions will determine precisely what snow-related damages are covered comprehensive versus collision insurance.

Read your policy documents closely or contact your provider to clarify any uncertainties. Ask your agent what additional coverages they recommend for your winter driving conditions. Doing your homework on snow damage coverage will ensure you’re fully protected in harsh winter weather.

Does Car Insurance Cover Snow & Ice Damage?


What happens if your car is covered in snow?

Letting our vehicle sit under a pile of snow for a long time can make the battery drain of its charge, and it can get packed inside the exhaust pipe and engine. Also, snow can damage the body of your car and leak into the braking system, too.

Does comprehensive coverage cover freezing?

Ice and Water Damage Falling ice, such as from hail, icicles, or other missiles are all covered under comprehensive insurance. Melting snow can also create a sudden flood for cars. Thankfully, water damage in cars due to flooding is also covered by comprehensive insurance.

Can driving in snow damage your car?

Whether you own a car, SUV, or truck, all vehicles are highly susceptible to damage caused by the rock salt that is used to keep our roads free from snow and ice. Large particles of this salt can over time lead to corrosive damage on just about any vehicle part that is exposed.

Do you have to pay a deductible if you make an insurance claim for liability?

You are not responsible for a deductible unless you have comprehensive and collision coverage. Since you only have liability, the damages to your car will not be covered which means there is no deductible.

Leave a Comment