Does your car insurance cover you for storm season?

Cars driving through storm

Summer is upon us and with it storm season. The Bureau of Meteorology has warned that this December through to February next year will be wetter on average for most of Australia.

For car owners, making sure your wheels have the right level of cover is one of the many things to do in preparation for the turbulent weather ahead. Back in January, catastrophic hail storms showed just how much damage extreme weather can cause to vehicles. The storms hit Melbourne, the ACT and parts of NSW leading to around 29,000 claims, two-thirds of which were for cars.

Getting your car fixed after a particularly vicious storm can be costly, so it’s best to double check your insurance before time.

Does car insurance cover flooding?

Generally speaking, most comprehensive car insurance policies will give you some level of cover for storm and flood damage. This will usually fall under the umbrella of ‘accidental damage’, which can also cover events such as hail storms, fire and collisions.

Although be careful, as different insurers may have different definitions of ‘flooding’ and you may not be covered in all circumstances. For instance, if you drive into flood water, your insurer may not cover you for any damage caused as this could be seen as ‘reckless’ driving.

What about windscreen excess?

Your car windscreen is a vital part of your vehicle’s structure. It supports your car roof and according to AutoGuru adds rigidity in case your car rolls over. So, making sure it’s in tip top condition is a must. 

Comprehensive car insurance may cover your windscreen for ‘accidental damage,’ but you may be required to pay an excess. If you don’t have any windscreen cover, AutoGuru says you could pay between $250 and $1,000 to replace it.

Most insurers offer a form of ‘reduced window glass excess’ cover as an optional extra with comprehensive policies. As with any extras it wil up the cost of your premium, but it may be worth it if you want to avoid a big bill from the mechanics. 

Whether this cover includes repairs and replacements and what kind of excess it offers will vary from policy to policy. Some insurers even offer excess free repairs or one excess free repair per year.

Prepping for bad weather

If possible, it is best to avoid driving in rough weather altogether. However, on the off chance that you do find yourself stuck in a storm, it is best to be prepared. As the old adage goes ‘plan for the worst, hope for the best.’ 

A few things you can do to make sure your vehicle is prepared for storm season include:

  • Making sure your tyres are in good condition. Get your tyre pressure and tread checked at your local service station to make sure they are up to scratch.
  • Check your windscreen wipers. Make sure your windscreen wipers are in full working order.
  • Double check your headlights. Headlights can help increase visibility while driving in poor weather conditions, so make sure yours are all fine and dandy.
  • Pack an emergency kit. Put together an emergency kit in the boot of your car, this could include a first aid kit, a torch and food items.

Driving through a storm

Just in case you are caught off guard and do wind up driving during a storm, we’ve also rounded up a few tips from CGU and RAC Insurance. 

The insurers’ tips include:

  • If it is safe to do so, pull your car over to the side of the road, rather than driving through a storm.
  • Turn on your headlights so you are more visible to other drivers.
  • Drive slower. Taking corners cautiously and reducing your speed can help lower your chance of skidding.
  • Leave a bigger space between you and other cars. According to the RAC slippery roads can affect your stopping distance and the amount of control you have over your car. So it’s best to leave a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front.
  • Try to avoid puddles. Hidden potholes and splashing could damage your car’s engine, so if you can, it might be a good idea to drive around puddles. Just make sure you indicate to other drivers, if you are moving into another lane.
  • Avoid driving into flood water, as your insurance may not cover you for this.

Not sure what kind of storm cover your car insurance offers you? Why not give your provider a ring and ask for more information. Or if you’re thinking about switching, head to our compare comprehensive car insurance page for a list of policies on offer right now.

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