Hurricanes and tropical storms can cause significant damage to your vehicle if you don’t have the right car insurance coverage before they make landfall. Your car can be damaged by high winds and flying objects, flooding from heavy rain, or hydroplaning into someone else’s property.
In the event of a hurricane, comprehensive coverage would cover damage to your vehicle if it is impacted by hurricane-related perils like flash floods, falling branches, or high winds, while collision coverage would cover damage to your vehicle if, say, you accidentally drove into a downed telephone pole.
Both types of coverage are optional, but unlike liability coverage which covers damage or injury you cause to other drivers, comp and collision insurance will protect your car itself.
Your car insurance company may not allow you to make changes to your policy right before a hurricane hits, so you should make sure comp and collision coverage are included in your car insurance policy well before hurricane season begins.
Which part of auto insurance covers hurricane damage?
Damage sustained by your vehicle during a hurricane or tropical storm would be paid for by comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage pays for damage not caused by a collision, including:
Corrosion from saltwater exposure
Damage from strong winds that may flip over your vehicle
Damage from fallen objects such as trees and signs.
Comprehensive coverage is often paired with collision coverage, which is also important protection for your vehicle, during hurricane season (and all year-round). Collision coverage pays for repairs to your car after a collision, regardless of who was at fault.
If strong winds and water cause your vehicle to collide with another car, object, or person, collision insurance would cover the costs of that damage.
Comprehensive and collision insurance are often bought together, and they’re part of what’s typically referred to as “full-coverage” auto insurance. Comprehensive coverage also covers other types of damage that can happen to your car when it’s not being driven, including:
Both comp and collision coverage are important during hurricane season, but they’re also important all year-round, especially for unpredictable perils.
What is a hurricane moratorium?
When hurricanes are about to make landfall, your insurance companies may announce amoratorium, or a period of time when new insurance can't be purchased and you may not be able to make changes to your policy.
It’s highly unlikely that insurers will allow you to purchase coverage mid-hurricane. Without comp and collision coverage, any damage to your vehicle during a hurricane would not be covered by your auto insurance.
Filing a claim on hurricane damage
If your car’s been damaged in a hurricane, you can file a claim with your insurance company to cover the costs of repairs. If your car was damaged in a hurricane, reach out to your insurance provider by phone or online to file a claim as soon as possible, and be ready to share the following information:
Your policy number
Your license plate number
A photo of your car before the hurricane damage
Photos of your car after the hurricane damage
Once you’ve begun the claims process, you’ll be assigned a claims adjuster (or representative) who will guide you through the steps of filing a claim. Your claims adjuster may ask you for more documents and will help the company evaluate the cost of the hurricane damage.
As part of the process, a thorough investigation may also be performed. A claims adjuster may inspect your car in person or may solicit an estimate from a repair shop. At the end of the claims process, your car insurance company will make a payment.
Do I have to pay a deductible for hurricane damage to my car?
Both collision and comprehensive insurance require you to pay a deductible, which is the amount of money you must pay out of pocket before your insurance can kick in to cover the rest.
Say a hurricane causes $3,000 worth of damage to your car and you have a $500 deductible. You’ll need to pay $500 of your own money before your insurance company will cover the remaining $2,500 in hurricane damage.
If the cost of the damage to your car is close to, or less than, your deductible, you probably won’t need to file a claim because you’d be paying for the costs of that damage yourself in either scenario.
Which states have the most hurricanes?
Since 1851, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has recorded a total of 462 hurricanes in the country. Florida has been hit the hardest during that time, with 120 total hurricanes, 37 of which were classified as “major.” And Texas has been hit the second hardest, with more than half as many hurricanes as the Sunshine State.
Major hurricanes (1851-2018)
Total hurricanes (1851-2018)
How to prepare your car for a hurricane
Most hurricanes last between 12 and 24 hours, but can cause devastating property damage. If a hurricane is predicted to come to your area, take the following precautions ASAP:
Take photos of your car - Take pictures of your car from multiple angles as evidence of your car’s physical state before and after the hurricane
Store your car documents in a safe place - Gather copies of your car’s registration, insurance documentation, and car keys in a few plastic bags, and hand a bag to each licensed driver in your household
Fuel up your car - Fill up your tank so your car’s ready to go if needed
Find a safe parking spot - Shelter your car from strong winds and high water by storing it in your garage or away from trees and power lines which may fall during the storm
Stay up to date with news from local authorities - Use a battery-powered radio to keep up with breaking news. (A wireless device will require a charger which you may not be able to use as the storm passes through)
Gather emergency supplies - In a waterproof container, store a supply of non-perishable foods, bottled water, emergency medications, extra clothes, your important cards and documents, a flashlight and batteries, a can opener, and a battery-powered radio
Evacuate if you’re instructed to - If you live in a mobile or temporary home, a high-rise building, or near a large body of water, you may be instructed by local authorities to evacuate your area
Seek refuge in a wind-safe room - Take cover in a closed, low-level space like a closet or beneath a table, and stay away from windows and glass doors
Secure your home - Cover your windows and glass doors, install straps and clips to your roof’s frame structure, clear your gutters and downspouts, store away outdoor furniture, and seal openings in your home