Is hurricane damage covered by insurance?

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Things to know...
  • Different types of car insurance provide different levels of coverage
  • While basic liability insurance won’t cover hurricane damage, comprehensive coverage options should provide protection for your vehicle
  • After the hurricane, take photos to ensure you have all the details to file your claim and file quickly as many others will also be doing so
  • Get the right insurance in advance of a storm, because insurers often won’t issue new policies once a hurricane watch is in place

People seeking to insure their vehicle have a number of choices when selecting car insurance coverage. The different coverage types available provide different levels of coverage for hurricane damage to your vehicle, from no coverage at all to full coverage.

Hurricanes can cause major damage to cars equivalent or worse to that caused in a collision. And major storms of this nature can come up quickly and change direction with little time to escape gusting winds and torrential rainfall or move your vehicle. Hurricane damage can happen while the car is parked or while you’re driving and even trying to move away from the storm.

However, the extent of the protection you and your vehicle have from hurricane damage depends on what type of coverage you have on your car insurance policy. The auto insurance choices available to a car owner can depend on state laws as well as whether you own your vehicle outright, lease the car or are still paying off an auto loan.

Online comparison sites can help you select the auto insurance that you’re looking for and that meets your needs. You can compare quotes from car insurance companies for a range of coverage levels to find the best value.

The most basic type of car insurance available to consumers is liability insurance. This type of basic insurance is mandated under state law even for people who outright own their vehicles. It only covers damages caused to other people and their cars and property.

On the other hand, collision coverage also provides insurance for your vehicle when it is damaged in a collision or car accident. While collision coverage expands your insurance protection greatly, it would not cover most hurricane damage, except for a collision or crash that took place during a hurricane. Don’t pay too much for auto insurance! Just enter your zip code and start comparing rates for free today!

What types of car insurance will provide coverage for hurricane damage?

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Comprehensive coverage on your auto insurance, however, routinely includes hurricane damage coverage as well as coverage for other issues caused by weather or natural disasters. You can select a comprehensive coverage option when you’re signing up for your car insurance policy. It covers the types of serious incidents that can happen to your car but are not related to a car crash.

In general, comprehensive auto insurance coverage includes protection for damages caused by weather events like tornadoes, hail, floods or severe storms. 

Other natural events and disasters like fires, avalanches or mudslides are often also covered under these policy options along with events like theft, falling trees or a collision with an animal. In this case, your comprehensive coverage would provide insurance for your hurricane damages.

Online comparison can help you look at various options for comprehensive car insurance coverage. You can see the offerings of major auto insurance companies and compare their premium costs, coverage limits and value in order to find the best option for you and your vehicle.

How is hurricane damage covered by your auto insurance policy?

Like other damages covered by your car insurance policy, hurricane damage claims generally involve a deductible. The deductible for your car insurance is a specified amount that you must pay out of pocket before your auto insurance kicks off to pay for the remainder of the damages. You’d need to pay the deductible before receiving coverage for the rest of the damage amount.

There may be some special conditions related to hurricane damage claims because these claims tend to come in large groups for many vehicles in a certain area over a restricted period of time.

In order to deal with a large number of claims, there may be specific guidelines or instructions in order to proceed with filing your claim and receiving a settlement.

In some cases where your car has suffered major damages after being flipped or flooded due to a hurricane, the vehicle may be “totaled,” or declared a total loss, by the auto insurer. In this case, the repair costs would be higher than the estimated value of your vehicle. When this happens, you’ll receive a check for the current value of your car as determined by your insurer minus your deductible.

While you’re choosing an auto insurance policy, it’s important to consider the potential for things like serious weather events that could affect your car beyond auto crashes. Online comparison tools can help you to choose a coverage type that provides the protection you need while shopping online for car insurance.

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How can you file a hurricane damage claim with your car insurer?

In some cases, you may be hesitant about filing a claim for hurricane damage. This could be because the damages you received were small, your coverage limits are restricted or you have a large deductible under your comprehensive policy.

As you’ll need to cover the deductible amount first, it may not seem like it is worth it to go through the claims process for an amount that is less than your deductible.

Another concern you may have is that filing a claim can cause your premiums to spike, even in cases where your claim is less than your deductible. However, in the case of comprehensive claims like hurricane damage, your rate will not necessarily go up after you file a claim in most states and with many insurers.

These claims are treated differently than car accident claims because they were caused by natural events. It’s important to gather documentation when planning to file your claim. This includes taking photos of the damage to your car caused by the hurricane as well as the surrounding situation.

It can also help your situation if you act to prevent further damages or mitigate existing ones, by covering up broken windows, placing a tarp over your vehicle or moving your car, if it is safe to do so.

In the case of flooding after a hurricane, however, you’ll want to be careful to avoid any more engine damage. When you’re ready to file your claim and have your documentation on hand, check with your insurer to follow the procedure to report your damages.

Why is it important to have car insurance in place before a storm warning?

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According to the National Hurricane Center, tropical storm and hurricane warnings are issued when the qualifying weather conditions are expected within 36 hours. A watch is issued when the winds are expected within 48 hours. A hurricane involves sustained winds of 74 mph or higher and a tropical storm includes sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph.

If you are worried about hurricane damage and want to make sure you’re insured, you’ll generally need to buy your comprehensive coverage prior to the issuance of a hurricane or tropical storm warning or watch. Many insurers place restrictions on changing or issuing new policies once a storm is already happening.

These restrictions are temporary but binding in areas where this kind of hurricane or tropical storm watch or warning has been issued. Their effect and limitations can vary from one insurer to another. Some of these include:

  • Restrictions on accepting applications for new coverage
  • Restrictions on adding additional coverages or lowering deductibles on existing policies
  • Restrictions once a watch or warning is announced lasting until 48 to 72 hours following the end of the watch or warning.

It’s good to have your insurance coverage in hand long before a hurricane happens. Shopping online can help you to choose the right policy options and find a good value to provide the protection you’re looking for. You can compare comprehensive policy options from multiple insurers to help you make the right choice.

What should you do if your vehicle was damaged by a hurricane?

If you’re driving in hurricane-force winds, the most urgent safety action to take is to evacuate to an area as advised by authorities. If your car is damaged while you are driving, you may need to evacuate and then move to safety.

However, if the car was parked when the hurricane hit, you’ll probably want to act quickly to file your claim.

Many people with damages are likely to also be filing claims, so getting in early can help to cut down on wait times.

After the hurricane, contact your insurer right away with your photos and documentation to get your claim filed. You can also get more information from your insurer about mitigating future damages in order to ensure that you receive an appropriate settlement that reflects everything that has happened to your car.

Make sure that you’re protected against hurricane damages by shopping online for comprehensive car insurance policies. You can compare prices and available coverage options in order to select a policy that provides the greatest value and the types of coverage that you need.

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