The definition of an “act of god” varies from state to state and from one insurance company to another. A good general definition of this phrase, though, is given by the Maryland Insurance Administration (MIA) site, which states that an act of god is a natural occurrence beyond human control or influence. Such acts of nature include hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.
As an example, the MD insurance regulator website notes that a snowstorm is an act of god, but driving in a snowstorm is an act of a man or woman or teenager. Most insurance industry defines an act of god as a natural occurrence beyond human control or influence.
In your case, while the wind itself may be considered an act of god, opening a car door is an act of a person and thus should be under the person’s control. If the wind were so strong that it bent a tree over as to snap and hit your car or another car, then it would be considered an act of god or an act of nature, as some also call it.
So in general, the situation you described would be considered your fault and not an Act of God since you failed to control the car door. Though it can be difficult to control a car door in strong winds, if it gets away, liability laws usually see this as negligence on your part, thus leaving you liable.
An act of god or an act of nature refers to a natural event not preventable by any human agency, such as a flood, storm or lightning. A person has no control over these forces of nature, and therefore cannot be held accountable, but opening a door while it is windy out is an act of a person and thus would be found to be your fault normally.
Since you could be held at fault, the damaged car owner could place a claim against your property damage liability coverage for the repairs due to your car door hitting their vehicle, if that is what happened. If the wind took and bent your door so that it needs to be fixed, then this would usually fall under your comprehensive coverage.
To determine your insurer’s definition of an act of god, speak with your agent. And to see if your state has a definition for this phrase, contact your insurance regulator.
— Michelle Megna contributed to this story.