How Auto Insurance Works After a Pure Catastrophe – Tampa Bay Occasions

Motorists likely turned to their auto insurers after Hurricane Ida, which destroyed hundreds of thousands of cars.

But minimally insured drivers might be surprised that their state's required coverage doesn't pay for damage from floods and other natural disasters. Only 78 percent of insured drivers are adequately insured in the event of a natural disaster, according to the Insurance Information Institute's 2018 analysis, the latest available data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

This is how car insurance works after a natural disaster and what you should do in the worst case.

The fully comprehensive insurance pays damage caused by natural disasters

Comprehensive coverage covers damage caused by natural disasters, including floods, hail, tornadoes, and forest fires, as well as other causes unrelated to a collision with another vehicle.

It covers the current market value of your car minus your excess. If your car is considered a total loss – i. H. the repair costs are close to or higher than its value – your insurer pays the current sales value of your car minus the excess.

This coverage is usually optional unless you drive a leased car or have a car loan. If your current policy doesn't have full coverage and you can't cover the cost of repairing or replacing your car after a natural disaster, you may want to add it. If you drive an older car this is probably not necessary as damage coverage doesn't pay out much, if at all.

You can always add comprehensive coverage, but it doesn't pay off retrospectively. You need it in your policy before your car is damaged for it to take effect.

Submit comprehensive claims reports as soon as possible

Insurance companies and repair shops can get stuck in claims after a natural disaster, so file a full claim ASAP. “The sooner your claim is received, the sooner you'll be in the queue,” says Jessica Castillo, Senior Claim Manager at Metromile.

To speed up the damage process, Castillo suggests providing photos of your car before the damage, if you have them. Many companies let customers submit claims online or through a mobile app, which can help customers avoid congested phone lines.

If you can't cover the cost of your deductible, Castillo recommends having your car checked out by a mechanic anyway, even if you're waiting to file a claim. You will learn what the repair price is and find out if your car is safe to drive while saving for the excess.

Take additional steps if you don't make a claim right away. Castillo recommends writing down the date of the event and the course of the event and photographing the damage. You should also look for ways to prevent further harm, such as: B. Drying out your car after a flood to prevent mold.

Consider other coverage options

Other coverage options can provide financial security, according to Dave Powell, vice president of auto damage for travel insurance.

The rental refund covers the cost of a rental car or public transport when your car is being repaired due to an insured damage. “How are you going to organize and pay for alternative transportation?” Powell asks while your car is in the store. If you are unsure, this can be a worthwhile addition to your policy.

If your new car is totaled, New Car Replacement Insurance pays for a new car of the same make and model, minus your excess. Depending on the insurer, insurance cover pays off for cars that are 1 to 5 years old.

Take precautions and mitigate further damage

The safety of you and your loved ones should be a top priority during a crisis. However, with timely notification of an impending storm, these tips can help reduce your risk of car damage:

  • In the event of a flood warning, move your car to a higher level, e.g. B. on a hill or a high level in a parking garage.
  • Park your car in a garage or other shelter to avoid damage from hail or wind.
  • Use sandbags or flood barriers in your garage to keep water out.
  • Avoid parking under trees or power lines.
  • If you own multiple cars and need to evacuate, try to get all of the vehicles out of the disaster area.
  • Do not drive through standing water.

After the storm is over, check out the damage to your car. If it's flooded, don't start it. Instead, disconnect the battery, roll down the windows if possible, and have the car towed on dry ground.

Also, check for cracks in the windshield or windows and cover any you find with tarp to prevent further damage to the interior of your car.

Moore is an insurance writer at NerdWallet. Continue reading

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