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- Types of insurance
- Comprehensive coverage
- Car totaled by tornado
- Filing a claim
- Will my rates go up?
- Protect your car
- Getting comprehensive coverage
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While comprehensive coverage will cover your car from tornado damage, basic liability insurance will not.
Tornadoes can be devastating. After a disaster, it can be difficult to figure out how to handle the damage caused by a tornado, let alone how to file a claim for it. That’s why insurance broker and car insurance shopping app Jerry has compiled everything you need to know about tornado coverage for car insurance.
Here’s everything you need to know about the limits of comprehensive coverage, what to do if your car is damaged or totaled, how to file a claim, and how to protect your car in the future.
What type of insurance covers tornado damage?
Tornado damage is covered under comprehensive coverage, which covers damage that results from storms, wind, hail, and other events outside of a driver’s control.
Comprehensive insurance is not included in the basic level of insurance required in most states (which is usually limited to liability insurance).
A basic minimum insurance policy usually only covers the other party’s expenses in the event of an accident, leaving you to pay your own damages out of pocket. If you want coverage for your own vehicle (from fender benders and twisters alike), you have to purchase more than the minimum amount of required coverage.
Key Takeaway Comprehensive insurance covers tornado damage.
What type of tornado damage does comprehensive insurance cover?
Comprehensive insurance may cover many types of tornado-related damage. Tornadoes don’t just do damage on their own—in addition to destructive winds, tornadoes are known to carry debris with them, and accompany heavy thunderstorms that can cause additional damage.
Because of this, comprehensive insurance covers these types of damage when caused by tornadoes:
- Severe hail
- Flying debris
- Falling branches
- Downed power lines and electrical damage
Your comprehensive deductible
If your car is damaged due to a tornado but not totaled, and if you have comprehensive insurance, your provider should reimburse you for the repairs, minus the cost of the comprehensive deductible.
For example, let’s say your car is hit by a lawn chair when a tornado passes through, which dents your hood and smashes your windshield. If your deductible is $1000, and the auto shop quotes you for $2500 worth of damage, you would pay $1000 out of pocket and be reimbursed for $1500 by your insurance company once the claim is processed.
What to do when your car is totaled by a tornado
If your car comes close enough to a tornado, there is a good chance it could be totaled, meaning an insurance adjuster deemed the repairs to your car would be more expensive than the value of the vehicle.
With comprehensive coverage, your provider should reimburse you for the actual cash value (or ACV) of your car, minus the comprehensive deductible.
For example, if your car is parked outside and picked up by a tornado, the repairs would likely end up being far too expensive for your insurance company to cover. Instead, if your car is valued at $20,000, and your deductible is $1500, your insurance company would pay you $18,500.
Key Takeaway Comprehensive coverage insures you against tornado damage. If your car is damaged by a tornado, you will only have to pay your deductible on repairing it. And if your car is totaled by a tornado, you’ll get a payout of your car’s ACV, minus your deductible.
How to file a claim for tornado damage
Weather events like tornadoes tend to do widespread damage—which means that if you need to file a claim, probably a lot of other drivers do, too!
Filing as early as possible and documenting the damage done is the best way to get your claim processed as quickly as possible. (Documenting the damage will also ward off suspicions about fraud, especially if you end up filing late.)
Here’s how to file:
- Document the scene. Before you clean up your car, take pictures of it as-is (or as close as you can get). As mentioned above, this tends to offset any concerns about fraud and gives your carrier a way to fact-check your claims.
- File your claim. If your insurance carrier has an app, you can usually file it that way; if not, you can also do it over the phone or on a computer. Provide the pictures you took when you do this.
- Write down your claim number. If you don’t have easy access to your claims, you’ll need the number to track the progress of your claim!
- Have patience. This can be one of the tougher things to do, especially after a disaster like a tornado. But your company is likely wading through hundreds of similar claims, and will likely not be able to get to yours right away. (However, there are ways to speed it up a little bit—for example, if you have a regular repair shop, you can get their contact information ready for when your insurance adjuster contacts you, or reach out to them in advance to see if they can have an estimate ready to send to the insurance company directly!)
Weather events like tornadoes can be exhausting and destructive, and sometimes it’s all you can do to try and pull yourself together afterwards.
That’s why Jerry is here to help—not only do we get you multiple free quotes when you’re shopping for insurance, so that you can get the best rates possible, but we’re also here to answer any questions that you might have during a situation like this.
That way, you can get your claim filed as quickly and easily as possible, and focus your energy on making sure you and your loved ones are all right.
Will a tornado claim increase my car insurance rates?
Any claim that you file does, unfortunately, increase the chance of your rates going up.
However, comprehensive claims are penalized less frequently than other types of claims—insurance companies do understand that comprehensive claims are made due to events outside a driver’s control.
If a tornado causes significant or widespread damage in a given area, though, insurance carriers may increase everyone’s rates, regardless of whether or not you filed a claim. This is called a rate revision and needs to be approved by the state before it can go into effect.
Key TakeawaysFiling early and documenting your car’s damage can help you get your claim processed quickly. Comprehensive claims aren’t frequently penalized for higher rates, so your insurance might not go up for filing a claim.
How to protect your car from future storms
Tornadoes are particularly common in the Midwest, and specifically in "Tornado Alley," which is made up of areas in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio. If you live in an area where tornadoes are common, here are some steps you can take to minimize any damage to your car:
- Parking inside an enclosed structure, like a garage
- Parking away from areas with trees or telephone poles, since those can easily fall and damage your vehicle in a tornado
- Parking away from areas with gravel or loose objects, as heavy winds can pick those up easily during a tornado
- Avoiding lower areas that are prone to flooding
How to know when you need comprehensive insurance
Tornadoes can cause extensive—and expensive—damage. If you live in an area where tornadoes (or natural disasters of any kind) getting comprehensive insurance might be a good idea for you!
If you want to be sure you’re getting the best deal on coverage, try using Jerry. In less than a minute, you’ll be able to get free quotes from multiple different providers, so all you have to do is choose the plan that works best for you. That way, you can be sure that even if disaster strikes, your finances will be safe and sound!
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Do most insurance companies cover tornado damage?
Since most carriers offer comprehensive insurance, the answer is yes! Just make sure that you have the right coverage—it’s less about the carrier and more about the type of coverage you have.
What type of insurance covers storm damage to your vehicle?
Comprehensive insurance covers events that are outside of your control, so it also covers any damage a storm might do to your vehicle, minus the deductible.