What Should I Do With a Damaged Car After a Hurricane in Florida?

Thus far, 2022 has been one of the worst years in recent history for hurricanes and tropical storms. Hurricane Ian smashed into Florida like a giant fist and caused widespread devastation. If damage to your automobile is the most you have to worry about, you are lucky. Nevertheless, a car is valuable property, and you must deal with the damage. 

Insurance Resources

Unfortunately, you can’t sue Mother Nature for negligence. However, you can file a claim against your insurance policy if you hold a policy that will cover hurricane damage. See below for a general overview of your options.

Will My Mandatory Insurance Cover Damage to My Car?

All Florida drivers must purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance and Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance. PIP is a form of no-fault insurance that covers you for personal injury arising from an accident, no matter whose fault the accident was. 

Since damage to your car does not qualify as a personal injury, PIP insurance will not cover it. Property damage liability insurance covers you for damage to someone else’s car if you were at fault for the accident. It will not cover damage to your own car.

Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive car insurance coverage is optional in Florida. If you have this type of insurance, it should cover damage caused by falling objects, flooding, hail, and wind. This seems to cover most hurricane damage to an automobile unless the language of your policy specifically excludes it. 

Read your auto insurance policy carefully to make sure it covers the damage you suffered and to find out the amount of your deductible. If you are still confused, ask your lawyer to read it over. It is possible that your policy language will exclude hurricane losses. After all, hurricanes can be an existential threat to insurance companies in a hurricane-prone state like Florida. 

Collision Insurance

Collision insurance is also optional in Florida. It is no-fault insurance, and it covers damages from a collision. It won’t cover damage to your car if it was hit by a tree limb in a parking lot. It probably will cover you if you collide with another car because of high winds. Collision insurance also has a deductible, the amount of which depends on the terms of your policy.

Government Assistance: The Federal Emergency Management Agency

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) might offer some financial assistance for your hurricane-related losses. Don’t rely on FEMA, however—it should be a last resort. 

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute To Seek Insurance Coverage

Obviously, you cannot sign up for insurance after a hurricane hits-–by then, it is too late. Insurance does not apply retroactively because insurance companies would all go bankrupt if it did. What you might not be expecting is that you almost certainly cannot sign up for hurricane insurance at the last minute either, for similar reasons. 

After a hurricane or tropical storm forms in your general vicinity, your insurance company will almost certainly declare a moratorium on new insurance policies, and the moratorium will last until the storm is gone. It might also prevent you from reducing the deductible. 

The reason is the same, and it is almost as obvious. Any insurance company will go bankrupt if it insures people against something that is likely to happen in the near future before you have invested a high number of monthly premiums into your policy.  

A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You

Strictly speaking, an insurance claim for damage to your automobile is not a personal injury claim—it’s a property damage claim. Nevertheless, personal injury lawyers deal with property damage claims all the time. 

Car accident claims are the most frequent type of personal injury claim and almost every car accident that injures a person also damages the vehicle. If you are wondering about your options, schedule a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer who is experienced with car accident claims.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm – Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys

Contact a St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer at Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys and schedule a free case review today.

Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys

700 7th Ave N Suite B
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 933-0015