Hurricane Car Insurance: How to Protect Your Car from a Hurricane
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The Atlantic hurricane season lasts longer than you might think –June 1 to November 30 — and it has the potential to affect anyone living in the eastern or southern United States. If you live in an area that may experience hurricane damage, preparation is key. Along with having a hurricane kit of essentials and an emergency plan with your loved ones, one of the most important things you can do is make sure you have enough comprehensive coverage for your vehicle in case it’s damaged.
- Consider purchasing comprehensive coverage for your vehicle if you live in a hurricane-prone area of the country
- Take steps to prepare your vehicle for an impending storm to minimize or avoid damage
- Act quickly after a hurricane if your vehicle has been damaged by a flood
Comprehensive coverage is an optional insurance plan that protects your vehicle in case it’s damaged by something other than a collision, such as a fallen tree, a flood or hurricane. Some drivers opt to skip comprehensive coverage to save money on car insurance, but without it, you’re on your own if your car sustains damage during a storm.
What else should you know about hurricanes and your car? Let’s start with tips on how to prepare and protect your car when you know a storm is coming.
Take Pictures of Your Car
Taking a few pictures of your vehicle immediately before the storm can serve as evidence in case you need to make a hurricane-related car insurance claim.
Fill Up Your Vehicle with Fuel
In the event of widespread power outages, gas pumps may not operate (and your debit card may be useless, too). Not only that, trucks can struggle to get to the gas stations after a storm. Without a refill of gasoline, some gas stations quickly run dry after a storm.
A full tank of gas allows you to evacuate if necessary. Or if you wait out the storm, having enough fuel can help you get started on your recovery efforts.
Whether a tropical storm or full-blown hurricane is coming, be prepared to wait in long lines to top off if you aren’t prepared in advance.
Although filling up your gas tank is critical, it’s not the only vehicle maintenance task to check off your list. It’s also a smart move to top off any fluids. Doing so ensures that your vehicle is ready to roll in the event of an evacuation. You don’t want to be stuck without windshield washer fluid to clear your windows or have your car stall because you haven’t had an oil change recently!
Find a Safe Parking Space
If you stroll through a neighborhood after a strong hurricane, you’ll probably see parked cars crushed like aluminum cans by fallen trees. Park in a garage, if possible, or in an area where there are no large trees that may fall on it.
If you have an older or flimsier garage, consider following Consumer Reports’ advice: park your car outside, “tight against the garage door—sideways—to block high winds and hopefully preserve the door’s integrity.”
No garage? It may sound odd, but if possible, park between two buildings, which can offer protection from the strong winds. Yes, even if you live in a neighborhood of single family homes. The protection of a house or building can limit the amount of debris flying around your vehicle.
Or, at the very least, make sure your car’s not left on low-lying ground that will flood. A higher elevation parking spot can keep the car safe from a flood area.
Seal Up Your Car Windows
A hurricane is often accompanied by heavy rain. If your vehicle has leaky window seals, you can also use tape (NOT duct tape) on the edges of windows, doors and the sunroof.
Protect Your Documentation and Keys
Remove your registration and other important documents from your vehicle to protect them from getting damaged. You want to put them in a watertight bag, along with other important paperwork in your home in case of a flood.
Also, don’t forget to keep your keys in a safe place!
Pack an Emergency Kit
If you need to evacuate, emergency supplies in your vehicle will come in handy. It’s a good idea to store extra water, food, flashlights, batteries, blankets, cash, clothing, toiletries, a first-aid kit and an emergency phone charger when a hurricane threatens to strike.
Get a full emergency-preparedness kit list from Ready.gov.
Find Out If Your Insurance Policy Covers Storm Damage
Not all car insurance policies cover hurricane damage.
If you have a liability-only insurance policy, damages won’t be paid for by your insurance company. Additionally, collision coverage won’t provide protection against storm damage.
However, if you have comprehensive coverage, it will likely cover damage inflicted by a hurricane. But it’s important to check the details of your specific policy to determine whether or not you have the necessary coverage.
If you don’t, the time to make changes is before hurricane season starts. Most insurance companies won’t provide coverage when a hurricane is on the way. So, take the time to determine your auto insurance policy needs ahead of time.
What to Do if Your Car is Flooded During a Hurricane
Once the storm has passed and it’s safe to go outside, check your car for hurricane damage. If your car’s flooded, file an insurance claim immediately. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people will be doing the same thing. You don’t want to be at the end of the line!
If your car has sustained flood damage, don’t start the engine. That can move water through your engine or fuel system, making a bad problem worse. Leave it alone and photograph any damage that’s visible, including high-water marks.
Don’t assume your flood-damaged car will be totaled by the insurance company, either. It may be repairable, which means you should do everything you can to dry it out. Open the doors and windows. Take out the floor mats, seat covers and any other damp upholstery you can remove. Wash them, if possible, and lay them out to dry in the sun. Act quickly, or your car may smell like a swamp thing forever.
Be prepared the next time a hurricane hits and avoid hurricane damage!
Compare auto insurance quotes online to find the best hurricane car insurance coverage
Compare auto insurance quotes online to find the best hurricane car insurance coverage
How to Stay Safe in Your Car During a Hurricane
After Hurricane Irma swept through Florida in 2017, it destroyed vehicles left and right. An estimated 200,000 to 400,000 vehicles were damaged by the storm, whether they were flooded, smashed, swept away or even overturned by the storm.
While hurricanes like Irma, Katrina, & Harvey may have been some of the worst hurricanes to hit the U.S., they definitely won’t be the last. If you live in a flood or surge zone, how can you protect your car from the next big storm?
The first rule of driving in a hurricane is: Don’t. In a 30-year span, the National Hurricane Center found a quarter of hurricane-related deaths resulted from people drowning inside their vehicle, or when attempting to abandon it.
If you must evacuate in a vehicle, or if you get caught in a hurricane while you’re driving, try not to drive through water, even if it appears shallow. As little as 12 inches of water can move a car, and two feet will sweep away even large SUVs. If your car stalls out in standing water, get out of the vehicle and move to higher ground.
Also, if you’re on the highway, don’t use cruise control. If you hydroplane on a wet road, cruise control can cause your vehicle to accelerate putting you in a more dangerous predicament.
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