The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate, we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. To help readers understand how insurance affects their finances, we have licensed insurance professionals on staff who have spent a combined 47 years in the auto, home and life insurance industries. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation of . Our content is backed by Coverage.com, LLC, a licensed entity (NPN: 19966249). For more information, please see our .
- Comprehensive coverage may help pay to repair or replace your vehicle after hurricane damage.
- Insurance companies may place a moratorium on selling new car insurance policies if a storm warning is in effect.
- Preparing your car for an impending hurricane may help keep you safe and reduce storm damage.
Hurricane season typically runs from June to November, and the fallout of this season can be disastrous. While your home may be the first thing you think of when it comes to mitigating hurricane damage, your car may also be at risk. For instance, Hurricane Ian destroyed around 358,000 vehicles across Florida and the Carolinas in 2022.
That said, it’s important to understand how your car insurance works in the event of a hurricane. Fortunately, there’s a certain type of coverage that helps cover vehicle damage caused by a hurricane.
When will car insurance cover hurricane damage?
Your car insurance policy should cover hurricane damage if you carry comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive insurance is the coverage type you will likely use if your car is damaged by a storm. However, if you get into an accident due to hurricane conditions, collision coverage could also come into play.
Here are some common instances of hurricane damage and how your car insurance may apply in these scenarios:
- Falling debris damage: If your car is damaged by falling debris during a hurricane, your comprehensive coverage will likely cover the damage.
- Strong winds: If hurricane winds flip your car over, comprehensive coverage would likely pay to repair or replace your vehicle.
- Water damage: Comprehensive auto insurance will cover most instances of vehicle flooding and damage during a hurricane.
- Damage while driving: If you are driving during a big storm and cause an accident, collision insurance may cover the damage to your vehicle.
It’s important to note that comprehensive and collision insurance come with deductibles. If your hurricane damage is covered, your insurer will pay to repair or replace your vehicle minus your deductible.
When will car insurance not cover hurricane damage?
Some auto policies do not include coverage for vehicle damage caused by hurricanes. Almost every state requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. However, most of these requirements are limited to liability, uninsured motorist and medical coverage types. State laws do not require physical damage coverage for your vehicle, so you won’t have comprehensive or collision coverage unless you choose it or your lender requires it.
When to buy coverage
If a hurricane is on the horizon and you try to get coverage right before the storm hits, you may not be able to. Insurance companies may implement a hurricane moratorium, which places restrictions on when you can purchase insurance if a storm warning is in effect. The time frame is usually based on forecasts from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
What is a hurricane moratorium?
Insurance companies can impose a moratorium on areas or even entire states that are likely to be affected by a hurricane. This moratorium prevents individuals from purchasing insurance coverage shortly before a hurricane.
A hurricane moratorium typically starts 24 to 48 hours before the storm’s arrival, but exact timing may vary depending on the carrier and nature of the storm. The moratorium is typically lifted after the hurricane moves through the area.
If you live in a state that is prone to hurricanes, most insurance experts advise having coverage in place well before you plan to use it. This may help ensure you have the coverage you need before a moratorium is enacted.
What states are prone to hurricane damage?
In the U.S., hurricanes typically occur in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast states stretching from Massachusetts to Texas. The states at the most risk for hurricanes include Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, New York and New Jersey.
More than 2.8 million single-family homes in Florida are at risk of being in the path of a Category 5 hurricane, the most severe classification, according to the Insurance Information Institute. In Louisiana, almost 850,000 homes are at risk of sustaining damage from a Category 5 storm, and more than 560,000 homes in Texas are at risk.
If you live in a state with high hurricane risk, understanding the specific car insurance coverage types available to cover hurricane damage may be critical. Without sufficient auto insurance, you might have to pay to repair or replace your vehicle out-of-pocket following a storm.
How to prepare your car for a hurricane
Properly preparing and storing your vehicle before a hurricane may help you avoid or mitigate damage. If a hurricane is on track to impact your region, consider these steps to protect your vehicle and prepare for a potential evacuation:
- Store vehicle in a covered area: If you are sheltering in place, storing your vehicle in an above-ground garage may help minimize flood exposure to the storm surge.
- Locate policy documentation: Having a digital or physical copy of your policy documentation, including policy number and declarations page, may be useful if you do need to file a claim for damage. It may be helpful to write down contact numbers for your insurance agent or company claim line as well.
- Fill up your gas tank: A full tank of gas may be necessary in the event of an evacuation order. Power outages are also likely during a storm, which means gas pumps won’t be working.
Stock your car with an emergency kit: An emergency kit may be needed if you get stranded on the road. Consider the following items:
- Tools for towing
- Reflectors and flashlights
- Emergency food and water
- Warm blankets and extra clothing
- Cell phone charger and power brick
- First-aid kit
Frequently asked questions
It’s possible that your car insurance premium could increase after a hurricane. You may see your premium increase when your policy renews if you file a claim for hurricane damage. You may also see your premium increase if you don’t file a claim if the risk of hurricane damage or other risk factors have increased in your area. Insurance rates are on the rise in the U.S., so you may want to prepare for a potential rate increase at your next policy renewal. If your rate increases, it may be a good time to shop around with other carriers.
Both collision and comprehensive coverage include deductibles. You choose your deductibles when purchasing coverage. This deductible amount will be deducted from your payout in the event of a covered claim. There are some exceptions to this. For example, if you purchase “full glass” comprehensive coverage, you may not have a deductible for glass-only damage to your vehicle. If the cost to repair your vehicle is equal to or lower than your deductible, you won’t file a claim or receive a payout.
There is not one single car insurance company that can provide the best coverage for storm damage for everyone. The best company for hurricane-prone areas is likely one that offers affordable comprehensive coverage with a full glass option, as glass damage is common during hurricanes. You may also want a company with rental car reimbursement coverage. Rental cars can be expensive after a storm due to high demand, and reimbursement coverage will pay for your rental car costs while your car is being repaired after a covered claim.