Question: We just experienced a severe tornado, and my car was flipped and mangled while I was driving and had passengers in the car. We suffered mild injuries, and my car is damaged. Am I covered?
Answer: It depends upon what car insurance coverage you have as part of your policy if you’ll be covered.
Comprehensive insurance covers severe weather damage
You must have comprehensive coverage for your vehicle’s damages to make a claim. Comprehensive insurance covers your vehicle for damages that are the result of severe weather or “acts of nature.” This includes damage done by wind, hail, hurricanes and, yes, a tornado that picks up your vehicle, flips it and brings it back down mangled.
Comprehensive is a wise choice to have on a vehicle because it also covers your vehicle for theft, vandalism and striking an animal.
If you have comprehensive insurance on your vehicle, I recommend making a claim immediately. If there was a lot of destruction in your area, you want to be at the front of the line for an insurance adjuster to start processing your claim. Your deductible will be due, even though you were not at fault.
If your car is severely damaged, then it’s likely it will be declared a total loss. This means your car insurance company will not repair your vehicle but pay you its actual cash value — the worth of the vehicle the second before a tornado damaged it.
If this is the case, I advise you to try to calculate the value of your vehicle so that you can negotiate properly with the insurance company.
If you don’t have comprehensive coverage, then, unfortunately, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket to repair — or replace — your vehicle.
MedPay or PIP covers injuries
As for the injuries you and your passengers sustained, you need to have medical payments (usually referred to as just MedPay) or personal injury protection (PIP) as part of your policy to be able to make a claim with your car insurance provider.
MedPay and PIP will normally pay up to your limit for reasonable medical expenses related to an auto accident for both you and the passengers in your vehicle. However, if your passengers have their own PIP coverage (on their own auto policy), usually it will be primary instead of your coverage.
And while MedPay and PIP will pay for medical expenses, typically, PIP will cover items such as lost wages and loss of essential services that MedPay does not.
If you have either of these coverages, read through your policy and speak to your car insurance company, if necessary, to verify what is covered and if you have a deductible or co-payments (PIP usually does, MedPay usually does not).
If you only have bodily injury liability on your policy, you’re unfortunately out of luck for making a medical claim. It only covers those that you injure outside of your vehicle.
Hopefully, you have the right coverages for your injuries and vehicle. If you don’t, then it’s time to review your policy and determine if you should add comprehensive and either MedPay or PIP so if an event like this occurs again, you’d be covered.
What if a tornado flips a car that lands on my car? Am I covered?
Typically, in this case, comprehensive insurance would cover your car if damaged by another vehicle being blown and landing on your car. In this situation, since tornado winds are picking up a car and flipping it, it would be comprehensive — the car that flipped became a flying missile, and it was due to an “act of nature” that the accident occurred. If, instead, say you were driving on a freeway, and a person lost control somehow and flipped and landed on your vehicle, it would be a collision (or you could go after the other party because the driver was negligent).
However, the insurer’s terms vary, so if another car flipping damages your car and landing on it, in some cases your auto could be covered under collision instead.
— Penny Gusner contributed to this story.