Auto Insurance and Bad Weather: Are You Covered?

Written by Andrew Freiburghouse on February 3, 2010 & Posted in Auto Insurance

There are some great things about living in New Hampshire. Driving during the winter isn't one of them. A tree falling on your car, getting struck by lightning, or a hailstorm bashing up your vehicle are also not particularly fun parts of a rough winter in the Northeast.

Evaluating your auto insurance policy so you know when you're covered and when you're not is as much a part of preparing for winter as buying heating oil. So let's take a look.

So, Your Car Got Crushed by a Tree?
That's unfortunate, no doubt. On the bright side, your auto insurance policy should cover the damages--if you have comprehensive coverage. But not if you have only collision coverage.

Comprehensive insurance customarily covers your car and pretty much anything that happens to it. This is why insurance companies produce such lengthy applications for comprehensive coverage as opposed to the one-pagers that can qualify you for collision insurance.

Of particular interest is the location where the car will be "garaged." Companies that insure vehicles in places like New Hampshire are aware that rough winters happen there more frequently than in southern Nevada. Keep your car in the garage for a lower premium.

Yikes, Your Car Was Struck By Lightning?
God just fried your car, now the electrical system is ruined. What did you do to deserve this?

After you figure that one out (or before, if it's a long story), pull out your auto insurance policy and make sure that you have comprehensive coverage. If so, your policy should cover freak accidents like this. Once again, collision-only insurance is not going to get the job done.

You may also want to check the warranties on your actual vehicle to see what the manufacturers might be willing to replace. For example, if the electrical system is malfunctioning even after being repaired by the insurance company, the manufacturer may replace it outright.

Oops, Your Car's Been Hit By a Hail Storm?
Incidents like this are why the insurance company wants your car in the garage. But maybe you forgot, and were really sleepy when the storm hit. So the storm hit your car--hard.

Once again, comprehensive coverage means you're covered here and collision only means you're not. Hail the size of baseballs can do a lot of damage, so paying a little extra per month for insurance is looking pretty good right about now.

Though your car, admittedly, is not.

It's Not Your Fault
Your insurance premiums for the above incidents should not be raised because they are not your fault and you are paying for comprehensive auto insurance. If you pay for only collision coverage and the above incidents happen, it's still not your fault, but it is your problem.

Time to move to Las Vegas?

Sources
Business Wire. "Hailstorm Causes Vehicle Damage in Bismarck." July 22, 2005
Insurance Information Institute

About the Author

Andrew Freiburghouse is a writer and businessman. As a partner at Los Angeles tax preparation firm Pronto Income Tax of California, Inc., Andrew has served thousands of clients both face to face and over the telephone. Currently, Andrew lives in Brooklyn, NY, and is in the process of starting up his own tax practice.

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