Do you have the right auto insurance to cover damage from hurricanes and other storms?

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Drivers in almost all US states are required to carry minimum liability insurance. However, in most cases, this only protects human occupants involved in crashes. If you do not have sufficient insurance coverage, you may have to pay for vehicle repairs out of your own pocket. So, does car insurance cover hurricane damage?

Fortunately, optional car insurance policies cover damage to vehicles caused by inclement weather. However, you must have adequate coverage.

Hurricane Ian raises car insurance concerns

A destroyed GMC truck in Fort Myers Beach after Hurricane Ian | Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

At the end of September, Hurricane Ian caused major damage in Florida. It is considered one of the deadliest hurricanes in recent history, responsible for many deaths and flooding millions of homes. A recent Carfax report concludes that Hurricane Ian also caused 338,000 new auto insurance claims related to flood damage.

This brings the estimated number of cars damaged by flooding to 738,000 this year. Flooded vehicles usually smell musty and can develop mold. In severe cases, a water-damaged car’s electrical system may stop working.

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However, scammers looking to sell damaged cars to unsuspecting buyers can easily conceal these problems. Wet carpets and seats can be replaced and a refreshing spray can cover the smell. Carfax therefore warns buyers to be wary of purchasing vehicles after severe storms.

Beware of cars with too-good-to-be-true prices from private buyers who won’t provide flood history reports. Some states, particularly New York and New Jersey, are also home to more flood-damaged cars than others.

According to Consumer Reports, flood damage often totals one car. Excess water in a vehicle’s engine can cause stalling problems. If the car is submerged, it usually renders its engine inoperable.

Even if your vehicle’s major mechanical components are undamaged, many insurers will still consider flooded cars undriveable. Fortunately, Bankrate says you can be reimbursed for the value of the car if you have comprehensive insurance. It will also cover damage to vehicles caused by hail or lightning.

The comprehensive insurance also covers damage occurring as a result of said storms. For example, if a strong wind overturns your car, this coverage will compensate you for the repairs. It will also cover repair costs if debris, such as rocks or tree branches, hit your car.

How much does comprehensive car insurance cost?

The cost of comprehensive auto insurance varies depending on where you live and other factors, but is generally affordable in most areas. In 2019, the NAIC estimated the average cost to be $171.87 per year. The states most vulnerable to hurricanes and tornadoes often have some of the most expensive premiums.

If you are considering taking out comprehensive car insurance, Bankrate advises you not to wait until the last minute. Some insurers will suspend issuing new policies shortly after a storm warning. This includes additions to existing collision coverage plans, so purchase comprehensive coverage at least 48 hours before a storm is expected.

Comprehensive car insurance does not only cover repairs needed due to natural disasters. It also pays for damage caused by deer or other large animals.

Vandalism, vehicle theft and fire damage also fall into this category. Many drivers are also unaware that they need comprehensive insurance to cover broken windshields.

Comprehensive coverage won’t cover worn-out components like windshield wipers or brakes, but collision damage waiver will. Having both policies plus the required liability coverage gives you comprehensive protection for road accident costs.

RELATED: What’s the Difference Between Liability, Collision, Comprehensive, and Full Coverage Auto Insurance?

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