Does auto insurance cover hurricane damage?

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Like the carnage of Hurricane Ian declines, many drivers in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas wonder if their car insurer will pay to repair the damage to their car.

The answer: It depends on your coverage. Some policies will let motorists foot the bill, while other plans will cover all repair costs. Not sure what type of coverage you have? Experts say the policy documents provided by your car insurer should detail the details.

Here’s an overview of whether the most common auto insurance plans cover hurricane damage.

Collision insurance

Drivers with collision insurance will not be covered for hurricane damage. That’s because collision only covers an insured if someone is in a car accident, said Scott Holeman, spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

Collision coverage will help an insured pay for repairs to their vehicle, and that’s about it. It does not cover damage to someone else’s vehicle or bodily injury to the driver in an accident. Collision policies also do not cover accidents involving animals or damage to cars due to acts of God, fire or theft.

Drivers who have financed their car purchase usually have collision insurance and pay a deductible up front so that the insurer can then pay for the rest of the repairs after an accident.

Liability only

This level of automatic coverage is required by most states, including Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas (exceptions: New Hampshire and Virginia). Liability insurance covers any injury or damage you cause to other drivers in an accident. That means liability insurance alone won’t cover hurricane damage, Holeman said.

Drivers who purchase liability insurance must also upgrade the policy to comprehensive coverage, also known as “full coverage.” The big difference between liability only and full coverage is that full coverage pays for liability as well as damage to your own vehicle.. Liability insurance is typically around 64% cheaper for drivers compared to full coverage, with the former costing around $720 per year and the latter averaging $1,997 per year, according to data from WalletHub.

Global policy

Drivers with comprehensive auto insurance are covered for hurricane damage. Comprehensive coverage covers damage to your vehicle, the other person’s vehicle, and any medical expenses incurred by either. Comprehensive coverage also includes collision protection and covers weather-related damage, such as dents from a hailstorm or flooding from a hurricane.

Nearly 80% of U.S. drivers have comprehensive coverage, Holeman told CBS MoneyWatch. If you’re still not sure what type of policy you have, submit a claim anyway and your insurer will get back to you and explain the type of coverage, he said.

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