The first warm breaths of spring usually bring a feeling of relief as we look forward to the longer and warmer days ahead.
Unfortunately, spring can also usher in a series of severe storms resulting in a peak season for car insurance claims for damage from such events as hail, floods and tornadoes.
In fact, the Insurance Institute for Home and Business Safety (IBHS), warns La Niña conditions are bringing an increased threat of storm damage to spring 2023.
“La Niña is affecting the United States for a third consecutive year,” the IBHS states. “With it comes an increased threat of severe weather, especially across the Southeast.” The IBHS is a nonprofit organization that conducts scientific research on behalf of insurers.
IBHS estimates that 40% of insured losses are caused yearly by hail and wind damage. Typically, most of the damage comes in the months of March, April and May.
While that figure also includes damage to homes, car insurance claims are a big factor. State Farm, for one, says it incurred about $440 million in auto hail damage claims in 2021, including such items as dented hoods and broken windshields. It says the average auto claim came in at about $5,000.
Where do comprehensive and collision insurance come in?
Damage incurred by spring storms is typically covered by comprehensive insurance, which pays to fix your vehicle if it’s pinged by hail, caught up in a flood or hit by falling trees or other objects carried by heavy winds. Comprehensive will also come into play if your vehicle is tossed around by more severe events such as a tornado.
Collision insurance, on the other hand, comes into play if your car should hydroplane in heavy rain and flip, or crash into another car or object. The amount covered is usually up to the cash value of your car.
An important thing to keep in mind is that comprehensive and collision both come with a deductible. The higher your deductible, the lower your rate will be. Typically, you can choose a deductible of $250, $500 or $1,000, but amounts can go as high as $2,500.
Top states for hail damage claims
The spring months are typically when most damage from severe hail storms will occur. In fact, Farmers Insurance estimates about 58% of all vehicle hail claims are reported between March and May.
When considering whether to file a hail claim, consider the cost of your deductible and the cash value of your vehicle. It may make more sense to pass on the hail damage claim if the repair cost doesn’t significantly exceed what you’d pay out.
Here are the top five states for major hail events in 2022:
- South Dakota
Top states for flood-damage claims
While damage from major flooding events also typically happens in spring, that’s not always the case. In 2022, Washington state experienced massive flooding in December 2002 when an unusual atmospheric river-type storm event brought torrential rains to the west coast.
Still, there are states which typically do see a peak in flood damage claims during the spring, such as Texas, and 2022 was no exception.
Top states for flood-damage claims 2022:
Top states for tornado-related damage claims
In any given year about 1,000 tornadoes are reported nationwide according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
While some may cause limited damage, others like Hurricane Ian, which tore a path through Florida last September, can cause widespread and extremely costly damage.
It’s important to understand the role comprehensive and collision play in handling tornado damage claims.
Here are the states with the most reported tornadoes in 2022:
Get ready for spring storm season
While most people can’t do much about where they live, there are certain steps you can take to prepare for the spring storm season and limit damage.
- Start by cleaning the garage and making room for your vehicles when a storm is brewing.
- Use blankets or a hail car cover if you don’t have a garage or are parked away from home. Comforters and cushions can also make suitable make-shift protectors.
- Trim trees around your property, particularly those hanging over parked vehicles.
- If you know a storm is coming, move to higher ground to protect it from possible flood damage.
- Make sure your car’s windows, doors and sunroof are firmly sealed.
American Family Insurance also recommends signing up for weather text alerts from such resources as the National Weather Service. You’ll not only know when a storm is brewing but you’ll be provided with safety tips and when appropriate, evacuation routes from severe events.
Insurance Information Institute. “Facts + Statistics: Hail.” Accessed February 2023.
FEMA. “National Flood Insurance Program.” Accessed February 2023.
National Weather Service. “Tornadoes.” Accessed February 2023.