Hurricane season is upon us, and forecasters have predicted an extremely active season in the Atlantic this year. Colorado State University experts warn of 24 possible storms in 2020, with 12 of them likely becoming hurricanes.

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You can take action to prepare your family for a safe hurricane season by creating an emergency kit and paying attention to National Weather Service warnings. Planning ahead to find the best car insurance policy to protect your vehicle from hurricane damage can help you prepare for the unexpected.

How Do You Get Hurricane Auto Insurance?

Nearly every state requires liability insurance, which on its own won’t cover weather-related damages. Comprehensive and collision insurance are recommended for complete and total protection to insure against any damage caused by hurricanes and tropical storms.

What Is Collision Car Insurance?

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Collision car insurance insures your vehicle if it is involved in an accident with another car or object. With three million people injured in motor vehicle crashes each year, according to the CDC, collision insurance is seen as a necessity by many drivers.

While collision insurance is beneficial for many drivers, it may not cover your vehicle in the event of a hurricane. If your car is damaged by anything other than a collision — like a falling tree crashing into your vehicle, for example — it may not help you. For this and other damage occurring as a result of a hurricane not caused by a car crash, you'll need comprehensive car insurance.

What Is Comprehensive Car Insurance?

If you need hurricane car insurance, a comprehensive plan is typically the type of coverage you’ll need. Comprehensive insurance covers any damage to a vehicle related to theft, vandalism and weather up to the amount you choose when you purchase your policy. In some cases, the damage might only be covered after a deductible is paid.

Like collision coverage, this type of auto insurance is optional for most drivers.

However, comprehensive auto insurance doesn’t cover damage from neglect. For example, if you leave your car windows or sunroof open during a rainstorm and your interior is damaged, that might not be covered by comprehensive insurance.

Does Full Coverage Car Insurance Cover Hurricane Damage?

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Full coverage auto insurance typically covers hurricane damage. While there is no single definition of full coverage, this type of plan usually includes basic liability coverage, collision insurance and comprehensive, which means that most types of damage are covered

There may be limits to what your car insurance policy covers or other forms of insurance may cover some hurricane damage or injury. For example, if passengers are injured during a storm in your vehicle, medical insurance would likely cover some or all of their needs, not your hurricane auto insurance. In addition, every insurance policy has a limit, even if it's a full coverage policy.

Related: What is the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale?

Does Car Insurance Cover Flood Damage to My Car?

Floods can cause a lot of damage to vehicles. Two feet of rushing water can carry away most cars, including even sport utility vehicles and pick-up trucks.

Those living in flood-prone areas might consider being insured for flood damage, but not all car insurance policies have that sort of protection. In most cases, comprehensive car insurance is your best bet.

Items that aren't permanently installed in a car won't be covered by insurance if they're damaged during a flood. Some examples of these items are GPS systems or removable car radios.

Related: How to file an insurance claim after a hurricane

Buying Insurance Ahead of a Storm

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Like putting together an emergency kit before a hurricane, you want to have comprehensive car insurance before a tropical storm hits. Some insurance policies have limits once a hurricane or storm warning goes into effect, says Rick Chen, a spokesperson for car insurance company Metromile.

“Comprehensive coverage is also good to have year-round, as it can help cover fires, theft, vandalism, and even damage from hitting or being hit by animals,” says Chen.

Comprehensive offers your vehicle complete protection, whether it's hurricane season or not. Before adding on comprehensive coverage, check your auto insurance policy to see what your current plan does and does not cover. Make sure to compare auto insurance quotes from multiple companies to get the best deal for you.

Related: What Is Flood Insurance?

When Is It Too Late to Buy Hurricane Car Insurance?

If you’re trying to purchase comprehensive insurance to cover damage after a hurricane, flood or tropical storm has occurred, it is too late. “Any damages will not be covered if you add comprehensive coverage after a flood,” reports Car and Driver.

Some drivers may not realize they don't have comprehensive auto insurance because it's not automatically added when they purchase a policy. However, 78% of drivers have comprehensive car insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).

It might also be too late to buy coverage when the National Hurricane Center puts out an alert of an imminent storm. Several private insurance companies will stop writing policies for people in areas that have been issued a hurricane warning.

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Although reading insurance policies isn't the most thrilling activity in the world, doing so can help you be prepared for an emergency and help protect your finances if your vehicle sustains damage. While a good car insurance policy won't prevent hurricane damage or losses, it can help you put your life back together again after a storm.

About the Author

Lara McCaffrey is a California-based writer with bylines in HerMoney, Psychology Today and more. Lara has a master's in journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor's in political science from the University of California, San Diego.

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