What coverage do you need to protect your car from damage due to flood, wind, and storm surge?

By Ryan Hurlbert on January 20th, 2011

What if you have to evacuate and leave a car behind to face nature's fury? Are you covered?

Another police car rolls down the street, urging you to evacuate. You have loaded all the vital papers and family pictures into the van, and your wife is in the passenger seat urging the kids to buckle up. It is time to leave, and as you back out of the drive you realize there are two cars left behind. "I hope I'm covered…" runs through your mind as you join the line of evacuees on the slow march to higher ground.

Does car insurance cover flood damage?

Every year the television news shows cars under water, their radio antennae poking out of the brown lake where Main Street used to be. Every year hundreds of people lose everything to flooding because they did not have flood insurance on their homes. But what about their cars? No one ever talks about flood insurance for cars.

Unlike your homeowner policy, which excludes damage caused by flooding, your auto insurance policy generally pays for flood damage to your vehicle if you carry comprehensive or "other than collision" coverage. Comprehensive coverage usually covers damage caused by:

  • Missiles or falling objects
  • Fire
  • Theft or Larceny
  • Explosion or Earthquake
  • Windstorm
  • Hail, Water or Flood
  • Riot or Civil Commotion
  • Contact with Bird or other Animal
  • Breakage of Glass

Is the coverage affordable?

Comprehensive coverage is relatively affordable; on my own auto insurance policy it is one-third of what I pay for collision. In most states you can carry comprehensive coverage without collision. You may have great faith in your driving ability and drop your collision coverage to save money, but consider keeping your comprehensive coverage in place. Look at that list again. How many of those events are under your control?

Even if you can't stop a flood, you can stop worrying about unexpected losses if something happens to your car, by making sure comprehensive coverage is included in your auto insurance policy.

Ryan Hurlbert
Ryan Hurlbert lives and works in the Pacific Northwest. As an insurance agent, he produced and presented educational seminars on various topics from insurance basics to strategies for dealing with teen drivers. He has researched and produced marketing materials in the insurance, auto, and financial industries. Ryan majored in business and received his Bachelor of Science degree from Portland State University.
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