Storms are a huge fear for many residents of Florida, and hurricanes and deadly storms have caused a lot of damage throughout the State over many years. With natural disasters, often those affected are unsure whether they are entitled to recover compensation for any property damage or damage to their vehicle they have sustained.
In some cases, your insurance company will cover damage resulting from a storm. However, this depends on the particular car insurance policy that you have taken out, your deductible, and the amount of damage that occurred. Additionally, there are some external factors that will impact whether you are entitled to recover compensation under your auto insurance coverage.
If your car has been damaged due to a storm, flood, or hurricane in Florida and you are wondering whether you are entitled to compensation, you should contact our law firm today. At The Law Place, we have over 75 years of combined experience in a wide range of practice areas, and we have helped many clients recover compensation for property damage resulting from a hurricane or tropical storm. We offer a free consultation so you can discuss your case with our lawyers with no strings attached.
Call us today to schedule a free case evaluation (941) 444-4444. Our phone lines are open 24/7.
Does My Car Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage?
To legally drive in Florida, you are required to take out at least $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) car insurance coverage and the same amount of property damage liability coverage, as provided under no-fault laws. Whether your car insurance policy covers storm damage depends on the particular policy you have taken out and the general practice of your insurance company.
In general, if you have taken out collision coverage or comprehensive coverage, you should be able to get compensation through your insurance. If you have taken out comprehensive insurance, you can apply for damages in the following situations:
- Falling debris – If a hurricane or tropical storm causes debris to fall on your vehicle while it’s parked in your driveway, your comprehensive coverage should compensate you for the damage.
- Flood damage – In the event that your vehicle has suffered flood damage or water damage due to a hurricane, comprehensive insurance will cover this.
- Strong winds – Comprehensive coverage will also cover any damage that occurs to your vehicle due to strong or high winds.
If you have taken out collision coverage with your insurance company, you should be covered for any damage while driving in a storm or hurricane. Even if you caused an accident due to flooding or severe weather, insurance companies would still pay you out for damage caused to your vehicle.
It may also be possible to get compensation from your home insurance policy if your garage roof collapses onto your vehicle during a storm. Speak with our law firm today to determine whether you can receive compensation through your own insurance office for storm or hurricane damage.
For a free legal consultation, call 941-444-4444
What Factors Can Impact My Ability to Recover Compensation?
It is important to be aware that certain factors may affect your ability to recover storm or hurricane damage under your auto insurance policy. Firstly, if you have just taken out liability insurance that does not extend to include any damage to your vehicle or property, you may be unable to recover any compensation through your insurance company for damage caused by a storm.
Secondly, your insurance policy may only cover storm damage in certain situations. For example, if your vehicle was hit by a tree or suffered hail damage when it was parked in an uncovered area, your auto insurance policy may not compensate you. In this situation, you should contact your insurance office to figure out what is included under your policy.
Further, if you took a risk when driving your car during a storm or hurricane, you may find that your car insurance is reluctant to pay you out. For example, if you decided to drive through an area with a high flooding level, or if you left your car window open during a flood, your compensation claim could be reduced or refused completely. It is important that you take caution when driving during hurricane season and also to be aware of what may impact your ability to recover compensation from car insurance companies.
Do I Need to Take Out Extra Car Insurance Coverage for Hurricane Season?
As outlined above, comprehensive and collision coverage will be enough to compensate you for certain damages in the event of a storm or hurricane. However, many Florida residents may wonder whether they can purchase extra hurricane insurance or flood insurance to ensure that they will be guaranteed to get compensation in the event of a storm.
In general, you can’t buy coverage specific to damage to your car resulting from flooding, storm damage, or hurricane damage. It is possible to purchase insurance specifically for flooding with a private insurer or through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). However, this type of insurance will only compensate you for any valuable personal items contained inside of your car at the time of the incident and does not cover car damage.
Some drivers in Florida also take out rental reimbursement coverage, which serves to reimburse you for any car rental costs you have had to pay while your car was being repaired. It is not necessary to take out this on top of existing policies unless you only have one vehicle, as rental costs in the State can be quite high, and without this coverage, you will likely have to pay out of pocket for renting a vehicle.
Filing a Claim Under Your Car Insurance Policy for Storm Damage
Filing a claim with your car insurance for damage due to a storm is just like any ordinary insurance claim. Insurance companies are required to pay you out any compensation you are owed under your particular policy, and you will be rewarded compensation for the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle if they believe you are entitled to this.
It is important that you contact your insurer as soon as possible if your car has been damaged in a storm, as the longer you leave it, the less likely you are to recover compensation. If a large storm or hurricane has happened in your area, insurers may be working on numerous claims, which can delay the process of recovering damages.
As soon as you contact your insurance office, a claims adjuster will be assigned to your case, and they will assess the damage done to your car. If it has been damaged but is still driveable, they will award you enough compensation to cover the cost of repairing the car or replacing parts. However, if the car has been completely destroyed, or it would cost more to repair it than to replace it, it will be regarded as a ‘total loss.’
Having a car that is considered a total loss can make your situation worse, as insurers calculate the amount of compensation you are owed by finding the actual cash value (ACV) of your car. The actual cash value of a vehicle is calculated by finding the amount you originally paid for it and taking away the amount it has depreciated since then. For example, if your vehicle was $60,000 when you purchased it, but it is now sold for $30,000, you will only receive $30,000.
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What If I Cause an Accident During a Storm?
Aside from your own property being damaged in a storm, the risk of a car accident happening increases substantially with adverse weather conditions. You should always take caution in the event of a storm and never drive unless absolutely necessary, however in the event that you cause an accident due to high winds or unfavorable storm conditions, your collision and liability coverage will step in to cover any damages that the other party suffered.
You should be aware that if you caused a personal injury to another party in a storm, they might make a claim against your bodily injury liability coverage to recover compensation for any medical bills or other damages they have endured. Similarly, if you have caused damage to someone else’s property in a storm while driving, they can seek compensation through your property damage liability policy.
Should I Take Out Comprehensive Coverage With My Insurance Company?
It is strongly recommended that you take out comprehensive auto insurance coverage if you are a driver in Florida. As noted, storm surges and floods happen often, and the possibility of your car being damaged during a storm is high. By taking out comprehensive insurance, you are covered for most damage that occurs during a storm or flood, and you will be compensated for this minus a deductible if there is one. Deductibles are the amount of money you pay towards your damages before your insurance plan starts to pay.
If your vehicle is submerged in floodwater, like what happened to many vehicles during Hurricane Irma, or if it is carried away by a large flood, your comprehensive coverage will pay you out the costs of repairing or replacing it, minus any deductible you have. Similarly, if your car is flipped over due to strong winds in a storm or if a tree falls onto your vehicle, you will be covered under your comprehensive auto insurance.
Do I Need a Lawyer When Making a Claim for Storm Damage?
The law does not require that you have legal assistance when trying to recover compensation, and most car insurance companies will tell you that having a lawyer won’t change the outcome of your case. However, from our law firm’s experience, we know that this is not true. Studies have shown that having the backing of an attorney increases your chances of recovering a higher settlement from insurance companies substantially. Usually, an insurer’s priority is to make a profit, and they will likely do everything they can to avoid paying you out.
Additionally, the claims process can be difficult to navigate alone, and when your car has been damaged due to a natural disaster such as a tropical storm, a hurricane, or a flood, proving that you are entitled to recover compensation can be much more difficult. A lawyer can help with the following to ensure you get the compensation you are owed:
- Look at your policy to determine what compensation you are entitled to.
- Speak with your insurer on your behalf to ensure that your storm damage claim is not undervalued.
- Petition your insurance office for a fair settlement.
- Collect evidence of any damage you have sustained due to a hurricane or tropical storm.
- Keep you up to date on the progress of your case and ensure that you are fully informed of what is happening.
Contact The Law Place Today
Insurance policies are often vague about what they cover in certain situations, and insurers aren’t the best at informing their clients about exactly what will be covered if their car is damaged in a storm or vehicle in Florida. Having comprehensive and collision coverage is generally enough to cover any damage that occurs in a storm, and if your insurer acts fairly, you won’t have to worry about paying out of pocket for any vehicle repair or replacement costs.
However, insurers often try to undervalue claims or refuse to payout their clients during big storms. For this reason, we recommend that you get legal assistance from a lawyer from our firm when negotiating with your insurance company about storm damage. Here at The Law Place, we have dealt with many insurance claims relating to storm damage, and we will offer you the highest standard of assistance with your claim.
We offer a free consultation, so you can call us about any insurance questions you may have with no strings attached. We want to ensure that you are not left paying out of pocket for any damage that occurred during a storm.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation at (941) 444-4444. Our lines are always open.