Storm damage and car insurance
When the heavens open, our cars might be at risk of damage. Here's what you need to know.
Storms batter the UK every year.
The Met Office might give them inoffensive names, such as ‘Alex’ or ‘Bella’, but they cause damage worth millions of pounds.
They also make driving conditions hazardous. Floods, debris, and poor visibility increase the chances of accidents.
But the danger isn’t just on the road. Unless it’s parked in a garage, your car could be a sitting target for flying roof tiles and falling trees.
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What counts as storm damage?
Storm damage is anything that happens due to severe weather conditions. These include violent winds, hail, snow, and heavy rain.
Any of them could wreak havoc. Your car could be scratched by falling branches, dented by flying dustbins, or hit by another vehicle.
Water is particularly dangerous as it can cause problems for engines and electrics.
Does my home insurance cover damage to my car during a storm?
No. This is a common misconception. You aren’t covered on your home insurance for damage happening to your car.
But, if your car was hit by tiles from your neighbour’s roof, you might be able to make a claim on their home insurance.
It’s something you’ll need to discuss with your car insurer as it depends if anyone was at fault.
For example, if the tiles should’ve been replaced, your insurer could regard it as negligence and pursue your neighbour’s home insurance provider.
Will my car insurance cover me against storm damage?
It depends on your policy. If you have fully comprehensive car insurance then you could be covered.
However, if you only have a third party policy – or third party, fire and theft – the chances are you won’t be able to make a claim
Either way, you must carefully read your insurance documents to see what protection you have in place – and whether there are any exclusions.
What car damage is covered on my car insurance policy?
Usually, you should be able to claim for anything caused by the storm.
The damage may just warrant a trip to the garage for some light cosmetic work or a mechanical overhaul.
Other damage that could be covered by comprehensive policies includes dents and scratches caused by falling branches or flying objects.
Then there are the freak hailstorms.
A vehicle’s bodywork is unlikely to emerge unscathed after being hammered by thousands of golf ball-sized lumps of ice!
Of course, in the worst-case scenario it may be declared a write-off if it’s beyond repair. Even the best bodyshop may admit defeat if an oak tree has crushed your roof.
Is flood damage covered by my car insurance?
Flood damage is a major problem.
Water gets everywhere and can cause serious long-term problems to the engine or electrics.
Comprehensive policies normally cover repairs to the mechanics, as well as the carpets, upholstery and rest of the interior.
For more information, check out our guide on car insurance and flood damage.
Anything else to consider?
Every policy has limits or exclusions so it’s vital to know what it will – and won’t – cover.
For example, if you attempted to drive through a flood then subsequent claims may get rejected.
Separately, if your vehicle will be in the garage for a while, your insurer may provide a courtesy car from one of its approved providers.
However, this is unlikely to happen if your car is written off. In those scenarios, you might need optional hire car cover with your insurer.
Choosing your insurance policy
You must do your research.
Decide how much risk you’re willing to accept and consider where you live. Do you have a lot of trees nearby? Are you in an area prone to flooding?
Make sure the policy you’ve chosen covers everything you need. Carefully read the documentation to make sure you’re aware of particular exclusions.
For example, if you’ve got a soft-top convertible and are concerned about water damage – make sure this is covered.
Finally, pay attention to the level of excess that applies. This is the amount you’ll have to contribute to any claims that are made.
Typically, the larger your voluntary excess, the lower your insurance costs could be. Your insurer usually deducts your excess from any payout they give you when you make a claim.
How to claim for storm damage
Check your vehicle to gauge the damage as soon as it’s safe. Take photos and videos of the scene before any clean-up operation begins.
Write detailed notes of what happened and where everything was at the time. This’ll make it easier for your insurer to process your claim.
Then get in touch with your insurance company to claim. They’ll guide you through the process and ask you questions. Most insurers have a 24-hour emergency helpline.
Staying safe in storms
Of course, the best advice is not to drive in storms. However, if you’ve no other option, there are steps you can take to lessen your risk.
Check the Met Office for weather warnings across the area you’re travelling.
You also need to be extra careful on the roads. Be careful when you overtake – especially high-sided vehicles that could be unstable in winds – and keep your speed down.
Similarly, when driving in snow and ice, you must clear your windows and mirrors, ensure lights are clean, and your number plates visible.
Remember, stopping distances in wet weather tend to be at least double those required for stopping on dry roads so keep well back from the vehicle in front.
The Department for Transport has plenty of guidance on how to drive in adverse weather conditions.
READ MORE: Driving in wind and rain
Storm car covers
You can also protect your car when it’s parked overnight. Storm car covers are available from high street and online retailers.
They cost upwards of £60 and offer excellent protection from rain and hail. Of course, they’ll also safeguard your paintwork against bird poo – a bonus if you have plenty of seagulls nearby!