Hurricane season is almost upon us, and it seems like tornado season never ends.
And then there can be a freak hail storm or windstorm that can ruin your day, and also your car. If your vehicle is damaged by winds, flood water or a tree being uprooted onto your vehicle, you need comprehensive coverage to use your car insurance policy to make a claim.
State-required liability coverage does absolutely nothing to protect your vehicle. The property damage portion of your liability coverage only covers damages that you are legally liable for your vehicle doing to another person's vehicle or property.
For your own vehicle's protection, there are physical damage coverages of collision and comprehensive.
Collision covers when your vehicle collides with another vehicle or object. Comprehensive is also called "other than collision" because it covers perils not related to collisions - such as vandalism, fire, theft, animal strikes and damage sustained from natural events.
For example, if hail rains down on your car's roof and hood, then you would make a comprehensive claim for the repairs of your vehicle.
Also, if you drive through flood waters, have hurricane or tornado winds drop a tree branch, whole tree or even another car on your vehicle, then you'd need comprehensive coverage as part of your auto insurance policy to be able to make a claim.
When you make a comprehensive claim, your associated deductible is due. It may seem unfair that a deductible is due even though you weren't at fault for the damage your vehicle sustained due to a storm, but that is how it works with physical damage coverages. Whether you're at fault or not, you owe the deductible amount before your car insurance benefits start.
Even before calling in your claim for your storm-damaged vehicle, it's important that you take reasonable steps to safeguard the vehicle against further damage - or additional damages can occur and not be covered. For example, if you don't cover a broken window and it rains, then any damage caused to your interior is unlikely to be covered by your auto insurance policy.
The good news in all of this is that your car insurance company usually won't raise your rates due to a comprehensive claim.
While collision and liability claims against your car insurance policy tend to be counted against you and result in a surcharge, comprehensive claims normally do not. In fact, some states even forbid insurers from raising your rates for a comprehensive loss.
But make several claims -- of any type -- within a short period of time, and your rates are likely to increase.
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