The last few days have been pretty dismal weather wise and we asked the experts Swinton Insurance about the best way to cope with adverse conditions.
What sort of damage can a storm do to my vehicle?
Following a storm, it’s important to inspect your vehicle at the earliest available opportunity to see if it has been damaged, and to take photographs as evidence.
Here’s the low-down on some of the most common forms of damage caused by storms:
Engine damage: Flood water which enters a vehicle’s engine can do serious damage, often requiring costly and complicated repairs, or even causing it to be written off. While this can be a frustrating inconvenience for drivers, it’s covered by a fully comprehensive policy. This type of damage often affects parked cars that get caught in rising water. However, many instances are caused by drivers attempting to drive through a flood, which can affect a claim. Be sure to contact your insurer immediately upon discovering the damage.
Electrics stop working: Water and electrical equipment don’t mix well, so if your car has been caught in a flood, this could affect the electrics in your vehicle, making it unusable. Similarly, serious damage to your car’s interior upholstery can cause huge inconvenience. However, this type of damage is covered by most fully comprehensive policies.
Damage to vehicle contents: Another potential problem caused by a storm (in particular flooding) is the damage it causes to the personal contents within your car at the time. This type of damage is likely to be covered in the personal effects section, or a specific section of your policy. These sections may have a separate excess to any damage excesses that may apply. Check your policy or contact us to find out more about your cover.
A fallen tree: Lightning or high winds can often cause trees or branches to fall on vehicles. This type of damage is typically covered by your fully comprehensive policy. However, be vigilant – if a tree located on your property falls and is found to be diseased or dead, your claim could be invalid. If the tree is located on someone else’s property, you may be able to claim your costs through their home insurance. Damage to buildings in storms can impact on your vehicle due to falling bricks or roofing tiles. However, there are some key things to remember about making a claim.
Storm debris damage explained
Scratched, smashed and dented windows and bodywork: Freak hailstorms can see vehicles pelted with stones the size of golf balls, an event which can cause severe damage to bodywork and windows. These instances of hail damage to your car are rare, but you can rest assured should you ever be affected, most fully comprehensive policies protect you against this kind of damage.
Crash caused by snowy or icy conditions: Snow and ice make for particularly hazardous driving conditions, and you should always think carefully about whether your journey is completely necessary. If you do decide to drive in icy conditions, your fully comprehensive policy will cover you, but it’s definitely worth following these useful driving tips.
Parked car hit by another vehicle: One of the most common forms of damage caused by snowstorms is when a parked car is struck by another vehicle – if your parked car is hit and you can identify the vehicle which hit your car, you should be able to claim on the other driver’s policy. If you don’t know who hit you, take photos of the damage and call the police to report the collision before calling your insurer to update them.
Driving in a storm: Different types of storms and how they can affect your vehicle
How dangerous can storms be for motorists?
The level of threat posed by storms was demonstrated between December 2015 and January 2016, when a spate of storms led to flooding in many regions across the UK.
This period of bad weather saw many drivers left with damaged vehicles, with a total of 5,600 car insurance claims – a figure which underlines the importance of taking precautions when storms are forecast.
Heavy winds and lightning
Heavy winds and lightning can often result in debris, such as a fallen tree or bricks from a damaged building, which could affect cars parked nearby.
In the event of this kind of storm damage, it’s important to call your insurer immediately and to take plenty of photos of the scene. This will help for quick and efficient processing of your claim.
Storms in the UK
Since November 2015, storms in the UK and Ireland have been given names to help you know when a storm has hit. Starting with Abigail, storms are named from A-Z, alternating between male and female names.
The Met Office website provides up to date information on the latest storms, helping you to be prepared for adverse weather, and the potential damage it can cause to your car.
Rain and flooding
Heavy rain often leads to flooding, which can impact cars in affected areas. Here are some likely situations and how to prepare for them if you know a storm is coming:
Where possible, closely monitor weather forecasts and look out for flood warnings on the news. Try to move your car to higher ground until the storm has passed if it’s parked somewhere that may be affected.
Avoid driving through a flood. This could suck water into the engine, or cause your vehicle’s electrics to top working – both of which could affect an insurance claim.
If you meet a flood while driving, try to look into the depth of flood waters before deciding to try and pass through – watching other vehicles’ attempts to navigate them can be a useful guide.
Snow can lead to particularly hazardous driving conditions, and for your own safety, you should always consider whether your journey is strictly necessary if the roads are icy.
If you do head out in wintry conditions, remember these pointers:
· Take warm clothing and blankets.
· Keep your phone charged in case you encounter difficulty.
· Make sure your car is completely cleared of snow before heading out – including the roof.
· Use extra caution while driving.
During winter time, hailstorms are fairly common. Occasionally freak storms see larger hailstones, potentially causing hail damage to cars that are exposed to the elements. Often, these severe storms are unpredictable and can strike without warning, leaving little or no time to prepare, but it’s still always worth monitoring the weather forecast.
However, should your car be damaged, there’s no need to worry – hail damage is usually covered as part of a fully comprehensive policy.