If you have comprehensive coverage, the answer is yes.
Car insurance doesn’t work retroactively. That means that if your car is damaged in a hurricane and you lack comprehensive coverage, you’ll be responsible for the repairs (or vehicle replacement, in the event of a total loss) out of pocket. While no state requires comprehensive coverage, we recommend it, especially if you live in a state like Florida, where hurricanes are common.
Car insurance covers hurricane damage only if you have comprehensive coverage as part of your auto policy.
Comprehensive coverage covers property damage from non-collision events, including acts of god like hurricanes, hail, floods, etc. It also covers events like auto theft and vandalism.
Hurricanes can result in flooding, people having to drive through flooded streets, and water damage to an engine. Comprehensive coverage applies to this, but note that if your car’s engine was submerged in water, your car will likely be declared a total loss.1
Your comprehensive limit will be your car’s actual cash value, so if your car is deemed a total loss, you’ll receive its actual cash value to buy a replacement. However, to receive what you paid originally for the vehicle before depreciation, you’d need new-car-replacement coverage in addition to comprehensive coverage.
If you live in a hurricane-prone area, you need flood insurance as part of your homeowners insurance policy, but not your auto insurance policy. Flood insurance won’t protect your car at all but will cover damage to your home and belongings. In contrast, comprehensive coverage covers flood damage for cars only, which includes vehicle electronics damage, bad smells, rust, and other issues.
Here are some car insurance coverages that don’t cover damages from hurricanes:
As we noted above, homeowners insurance doesn’t apply to your car’s damages. Here is what it does cover.
Homeowners insurance would cover hurricane damage to your home’s structure. But note that unless it was part of your policy, hurricane insurance may require a separate and large deductible before your insurer will contribute up to your policy’s limits.
Homeowners insurance also covers hurricane damage to your personal belongings, so it will pay to repair or replace them.
If your house is unlivable due to a hurricane, homeowners insurance would pay for your hotel, meals, and living expenses above what you’d normally spend, up to a certain time limit, dollar amount, or both, depending on your policy.
While homeowners insurance may cover damage from strong winds, it doesn’t cover flood damage automatically. For that, you’d need either separate flood insurance or a flood endorsement added to your homeowners’ policy.
You should buy comprehensive coverage as part of full coverage car insurance when you purchase your policy. If you lack comprehensive coverage and a hurricane hits, your policy won’t cover your damages at all.
According to data from the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Florida is the most dangerous state for hurricanes, with 120 hitting land between 1851 and 2020 — 37 of which were Category 3 or higher.2
|Category of hurricane that made direct hits, 1851-2020||1||2||3||4||5||All hurricanes||All major hurricanes (Category 3 and above)|
Perhaps the Sunshine State’s frequency of hurricanes is part of the reason why car insurance in Florida is so expensive. In 2020, the average cost of car insurance in Florida was $1,371 a year, 24 percent higher than the national average.3
If you know a hurricane’s on the way, don’t just prepare your house — prepare your car as well.
Even if you take the best precautions, your car might flood anyway. If it does, you’ll need to work with your insurance company to be made whole again.
Each state has a different statute of limitations for how soon after damages occur you must submit claims. If you wait too long, the insurance company isn’t required to pay for your damages and the cost of any repairs. On average, though, you have four years to file property damage claims — a pretty large window.6
If the adjuster finds that your insurance policy applies to your damages, you’ll be responsible for paying for your comprehensive deductible if you haven’t already. Once you’ve paid the deductible, you’ll have to wait to receive a reimbursement check for your damages, either in the mail or through direct deposit.7
Setting a high deductible will lower your car insurance premium, but make sure you can actually afford to pay the deductible amount in the event of an emergency.
Even though it obviously wasn’t your fault, there’s a good chance that vehicle damage from a hurricane will raise your car insurance premium. However, it won’t increase as much compared to the price hikes drivers face after causing an accident.
Progressive, for example, says it won’t charge you extra for a claim under $500 unless it happens multiple times, but every company is different. Check with your insurance agent to see how much hurricane damage could raise your rates, if at all.
We, of course, don’t recommend driving in hurricanes. However, if you have no other choice, avoid flood zones, as your vehicle could get stuck or swept away. If you must drive through flood zones, make sure the water can’t reach your car’s undercarriage, and drive slowly through puddles and pools of water. Stay away from other vehicles, and keep your engine revving in order to prevent the exhaust from sucking in water.8
Hurricane damage can be costly if you don’t have the right insurance. Notably, hurricanes aren’t the only kind of inclement weather that comprehensive coverage applies to. Learn more about coverage for natural disasters, which include tornadoes, hail, and earthquakes. Or read on to learn more about the intersection between hurricanes and car insurance.
Where hurricane-damaged cars go depends on the extent of the damage. If the needed repairs cost less than your state’s total loss threshold, the car will be repaired in a mechanic’s shop. If the cost of repairs is above the threshold, your car will be declared a total loss and salvaged in a junkyard.
Here are some key signs that a car was in a hurricane, according to Kelley Blue Book:
If flood damage is recorded on a car’s title, then flood damage will show up on CARFAX. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in all states require all vehicles badly damaged by floods to have permanent title marks, which would appear on a CARFAX report.
Flooded cars aren’t necessarily ruined. Some damage, like a musty smell, can be fixed with an air freshener, while damp carpets can be replaced. However, extensive damage, like an engine being submerged in water, will cause a car to be a total loss.
Does car insurance cover water damage? Progressive. (2023).
Hurricanes Frequently Asked Questions. Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, U.S. Department of Commerce. (2021, Jun 1).
2019/2020 Auto Insurance Database Report. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2023, Jan).
How to Protect Your Car During Severe Weather. CHUBB. (2023).
How-To: Protect Your Car from Flood Damage. Certified AutoPlex. (2023).
Car Accidents: Statutes of Limitations. Enjuris. (2023).
What to expect when you file a car insurance claim. Allstate. (2019, Sep).
How To Protect Your Vehicle From Flood Damage. Payne Auto Group. (2020, May 28).