How to get covered and file a car insurance claim for storm damage
Whether your car was parked or you were driving on the open road, you are able to claim damage caused by a storm, including wind, hail, flooding and more, if you have comprehensive coverage. Learn what you’re covered for and the steps to take to make a successful claim if your vehicle is damaged by a storm.
Am I covered for storm damage?
First, you need to know if your car insurance policy actually covers storm damage. Typically, you will be covered if you have purchased comprehensive coverage. Just liability, the minimum amount of coverage required by most states, won’t protect you from storm damage.
Many insurers provide your policy information online. Sign in to your account and navigate to the page that lists your coverages. For example, if your provider is Progressive, click on your auto policy, then click on “View” under “Coverages.” All of the information that is listed on the declarations page is included here. If not, you can always call your insurance provider to get help with finding out if you have comprehensive coverage.
When won’t I be covered for storm damage?
If you don’t have comprehensive car insurance, you won’t be covered against storm damage to your vehicle. Other exclusions may also apply.
Types of storm damage covered by comprehensive policies
General storm damage caused by intense weather can come in many forms. Your part of the country might be susceptible to hurricanes. Or your state might frequently be subject to hail storms. Here are some types of storm damage that are generally covered under comprehensive. No matter what was the source of the storm damage, filing a claim is the same.
- Wind: Comprehensive covers damage directly caused by wind, such as windows broken by debris. Or if severe wind gusts topple a tree onto your car, comprehensive should cover you.
- Hail: A powerful hail storm can leave dents on the entire body of your car, as well as broken windows. If you don’t have comprehensive, you won’t be covered.
- Flood: If a severe storm causes flooding that damages your auto, comprehensive can help cover the costs. However, if your car is damaged due to a window being left open, you will not be covered.
- Hurricane: A hurricane can bring strong winds and flooding — a double whammy. Hurricane damage falls under the general storm damage covered by comprehensive.
How to file a claim for storm damage
Filing a claim for storm damage is done the same way as filing a claim after a car accident. Depending on your insurer, there are different ways of making a claim. You will need to send in a claims form and the documentation, either online or through the mail. Online will usually get you a faster response.
- Fill out the claims form provided by your insurer. It will have sections for all the relevant information.
- Send in your photos using the tools provided. In many cases your insurer will simply specify an email address you should send them to.
Your comprehensive car insurance policy may also cover a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired. If the storm has also damaged your home, you will need to check your homeowners insurance policy to see what types of storm damage are covered.
What info will I need?
- Your name, address and driver’s license number
- Your insurance policy number
- The date and, if possible, the exact time the damage occurred
- Any other information requested by the insurer
What to do after storm damage to your car
- Stay safe. Check your surroundings. Is there broken glass or down power lines? Don’t put yourself in harms way. Call for help if necessary.
- Don’t drive the damaged car. It’s not safe, and the insurer may reject your storm damage claim if you do.
- Don’t remove debris without documenting it. Ideally, avoid removing any debris until you have the go-ahead from your insurer. If you need to clear away dangerous glass or metal, or attempt a quick fix for safety reasons, take a photo with your phone first.
- Call your insurer as soon as possible. Note that if large areas were affected by the storm there may be long wait times for customer service.
- Don’t authorize repairs without contacting your insurer first. Unapproved repairs might not be covered by your insurance policy.
Checklist: Documenting the damage
The easiest way to document the damage in detail is with photos.
- Take full scene photos that show what happened, where your car was parked and the surroundings.
- Take close-ups to show specific damage. You don’t need to take a separate picture of each dent, but you should make sure that all damage is clearly shown in the photos.
- Where necessary, you might want to label the photos with information such as “driver side door” to make them clearer.
- Remember to check the interior. It’s important to document the damage as fully as possible.
3 ways to protect your car from storm damage
Want to prevent future damage to your car? If you know what’s coming, you can take steps to protect your car the next time there’s a bad storm.
1. Know when bad weather is coming
Stay on top of the news with services like the National Weather Service, which has up-to-date weather warnings. You can also sign up to receive warnings from insurers. A lot of insurers have started offering storm warning services. If your insurer offers one of these, it might be worth subscribing to.
2. Park your car somewhere safe
If there’s a hailstorm rolling in, you might want to get your car under cover. Pull your car into your garage or under the carport, or look for an underground parking garage, like in a shopping center. If you’re expecting heavy rain and have cause to be concerned, you might want to look for higher ground.
Think twice before parking under a tree. Falling branches can cause just as much damage as hail, and are often the result of heavy winds. Also watch out for loose roof tiles, TV antennas and anything else that might come from above.
3. Use tarps or blankets
If there’s no time for anything else, this might be the way to go. Layers of blankets and heavier tarps generally work better. But remember to secure them so they don’t just blow away.
Can hail cause enough damage to total my car?
Yes. It’s surprisingly easy for hail damage to cost more to repair than the vehicle is worth.
One of the main reasons is that hail damage will typically be spread across the entire body of the car, so it can’t be fixed by just replacing a single panel or without a huge amount of work.
A severe storm can cause a great amount of damage, including to your car. If this happens, filing a claim with your insurance provider is straightforward. Just be sure to follow the tips and steps laid out here.