Comprehensive auto insurance pays for cars damaged by hurricanes
By Michelle Megna
Dropping the optional comprehensive insurance coverage on your older automobile may sound like a good way to save a few bucks. But if you live in a storm-prone region, you might want to reconsider.
If your car is damaged or destroyed in a storm, you'll be footing the bill for its repair or replacement at a time when the cost of a buying another car has gone through the roof. That's because severe storms total thousands -- sometimes hundreds of thousands -- of cars.
So prices are likely to rise on the undamaged cars up for sale as drivers scramble to purchase vehicles to replace ones they lost.
While giving up comprehensive coverage will lower your car insurance rates, you need to ask yourself whether you have the financial ability to buy a replacement car.
Comprehensive coverage costs, on average, about $16 a month, or $192 a year, according to a rate analysis by CarInsurance.com.
Auto insurance and hurricanes
Comprehensive insurance plays a key role in paying for hurricane damage. And you don't need to live near the coast to be affected. As anyone who lives in the South or East knows, hurricanes and tropical storms can often take a toll hundreds of miles inland, bringing fierce winds and torrential rains, and spinning off tornadoes.
While comprehensive coverage is a good starting point, it's not the only insurance you should have if a hurricane strikes.
Comprehensive covers your vehicle if it sustains damage from things like wind, flooding, and flying objects, but if there are any valuables in your car, you need to have homeowners or renters insurance, or those losses won't be covered.
Another consideration is whether your auto insurance policy provides for a rental car if your vehicle is knocked out of commission. Even with rental reimbursement coverage, there can be limits on the amount you're reimbursed per day.
Other types of insurance to consider are gap coverage, which pays off your vehicle loan if your car is destroyed and the amount you owe is greater than the car's value; or new car replacement insurance, which will provide you with a new car if your car is totaled during the first year or two you own it.
The key is to figure out in advance the range of auto insurance options available from your car insurance company that will best meet your needs. Otherwise, there's a good chance your insurer won't allow you to make changes if you wait till a hurricane is about to make landfall.
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