Repairing Storm Damage: What Happens, and Who Pays?

Repairing Storm Damage: What Happens, and Who Pays?

When you think of weather and car damage, you probably think of sliding on icy roads or fixing rust caused by road salt. However, wind and hail from severe storms can do serious damage, even if you’re not on the road. Does your insurance cover the damage? How do you make sure you can make a claim? Here are the answers to the most common questions about storm damage.

Does My Insurance Cover Storm Damage?

Comprehensive auto insurance coverage almost always includes storm damage. Liability coverage is only for covering other vehicles in accidents.

Homeowner’s insurance covers the contents of the home as well as the home itself. That includes your vehicle if it is parked in an attached garage. It probably won’t cover your car if it was in the driveway unless the damage is directly related to the property. For example, hail isn’t covered, but damage from a falling tree on your property is covered. If the tree is on a neighbor’s property, that neighbor is liable. In this case, you would file a claim with your car insurance, and they’ll negotiate with your neighbor and their insurance company.

Flood damage is included in comprehensive auto policies, but not homeowner’s policies. Earthquakes aren’t covered either. Other water damage is covered if it isn’t due to negligence. Negligent damage includes having your interior ruined because you left a window open, or driving your car into a flooded area. However, if water pushes past seals in a severe storm, or it enters through damage from hail, it will be covered by comprehensive insurance.

Hurricane coverage is included with car insurance, but there’s usually a clause that delays coverage. If you find yourself in the path of a hurricane when you’re on vacation, you can’t just buy a month of comprehensive coverage and expect the insurance company to pay out.

Should I Report Damage if I Don’t Think Repairs will be More than my Deductible?

Yes. Doing so ahead of time will make it easier to get work approved if repairs will cost more than your deductible. If it’s less than the deductible, the insurance company simply won’t pay for damages. Rate increases are determined by risk, not actual occurrences. Reporting an accident increases insurance rates because it shows you may be a reckless driver. Filing a storm-related claim won’t increase the chance your car will be in a natural disaster.

Can Hail Really Total My Vehicle?

Thanks to paintless dent repair techniques, widespread hail damage can be repaired affordably most of the time. However, once damage reaches a point that panels need to be replaced and repainted, repair costs can easily exceed the value of an older vehicle.

Can My Car Be Repaired After Flooding?

It depends on the severity of the damage. On average, 70% of flooded cars are totaled due to the damage to electrical faults, engine damage, and interior damage. If water enters the intake or the oil pan while the engine is running, it will cause serious damage almost immediately. Likewise, replacing the carpet in a vehicle isn’t a big deal, but fixing water damaged electronics and wiring is a labor-intensive task.

What Should I Do After a Storm?

Inspect the area: Be aware of broken glass, splinters and other hazards that may surround your vehicle.

Document the damage: Ideally, your insurance agent should inspect your vehicle before you try clearing away debris. If you must clean your vehicle, take some photos with your phone first.

Contact your insurance company: The sooner you can file a claim, the sooner you can get work approved. Expect a long wait time if the area was hit by a natural disaster.

Leave your car alone: Until your car is inspected by an insurance agent, don’t try to drive it. Unless the damage was minor, the car should be towed to the body shop to prevent further damage.

Check your air filter: Just have some minor hail damage? Even if the outside of your vehicle is intact, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can force debris through your car’s intake, blocking or damaging the filter. Dust storms won’t damage the filter, but they can saturate the filter medium.

Take the Worry Out of Storm Repair

Whether your car needs body repairs due to storms or accidents, bring it to Merton Auto Body. We have an on-site appraisal center that can work with your insurance company through the repair process. Our staff is ASE certified, and our shop is I-CAR Gold Class certified, which means we have the latest training and equipment. That means your car will be fixed correctly and quickly, so you can rest easy knowing the job is being done right. Our shop is in Merton near Ironwood Golf Course, just a short tow or drive from Lisbon, Pewaukee, North Lake and Sussex.

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