Winter Storm Auto Damage Highlights Car Insurance Needs

Overturned vehicleCleon and Dion are wreaking havoc.

And no, those aren’t havoc-wreaking Dr. Seuss characters.

Cleon and Dion are the names of two winter storms that have spent the last week turning much of America into a wintertime Whoville.

Drivers victimized by the inclement conditions will want to know what their car insurance coverage can do for them.

That advice may be just as important for most drivers; with recently reported snowfall not expected to immediately subside, roads that will likely be slick with ice in upcoming days can still be dangerous for motorists.

Cleon, Dion Bring Minor, Major Crashes to Several Regions

Winter Storm Cleon raked through much of the U.S. last week, bringing freezing conditions to—among others—Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee as the weather system barreled eastward.

Winter Storm Dion struck over the weekend and is predicted to end Tuesday, but the storm won’t dissipate before leaving more of its own tangled mess on the roads.

On Tuesday morning, the weather system dumped so much snow on the mid-Atlantic U.S. that it snarled the morning commute for I-95 drivers there and forced a federal shutdown for many offices in Washington, D.C., where local news station WUSA9 is reporting “tons of minor accidents all around” surrounding areas and “slipping, especially on ramps.”

Comprehensive, Collision Crucial with Likelier Instances of Slipping, Sliding

Drivers stuck in snowy conditions might be only be thinking of getting home or (at least) indoors. But for those unfortunate motorists who’ve been involved in weather-induced collisions or had their vehicle damaged by the wintertime conditions, they’ll have to lean on their car insurance coverage for post-crash protection.

With winter not yet even set to start until next week, drivers without comprehensive or collision coverage are urged to get auto insurance quotes for those optional policy add-ons so that they can ensure protection when disaster strikes in upcoming months.

Here is the skinny on how snow- and ice-caused crashes and damage can be covered by those types of vehicle coverage (deductibles apply to all forms of coverage).

In Plano, Tex., CNN reported on a Sunday Youtube video from local Nicole Jaime. The clip showed that Cleon’s heavy snowfall froze sheets of ice atop Jaime’s apartment building, only to send those sheets tumbling five stories down onto a vehicle’s roof when conditions warmed.

The CNN report showed a number of other similar instances, and local news station WFAA reported Monday that dozens of vehicles were damaged. Those drivers “have to file a claim with their car insurance,” the WFAA report said.

Those drivers can rest easier if they are policyholders with comprehensive coverage. In this wintertime wonderland, the Insurance Information Institute (III) said in an advisory that optional form of protection would likely come into use when a policyholder’s vehicle is damaged by:

  • heavy wind
  • flooding
  • fallen ice or tree limbs

In Massachusetts, the Worcester Telegram reported that car insurers there are in the midst of dealing with car insurance claims from a 65-car Sunday pileup on the I-290.

A Worcester-based insurer told the Telegram that policyholders with collision insurance can expect their auto insurance company to foot the bill, minus the deductible. According to the III, collision coverage compensates policyholders for damage to their own vehicle from:

  • flipping over
  • colliding with another vehicle
  • colliding with an object
  • driving into potholes

The III also highlighted property damage protection, a portion of the liability coverage that drivers are required to have to be on the road. Property damage liability coverage “pays for damage” caused, according to the III, “to someone else’s property caused by ice, snow and slippery roads.”

The Institute listed these instances when property damage liability comes into play:

  • Damage to other cars
  • Damage to lamp posts and telephone poles
  • Damage to fences, buildings or other structures that the vehicle may strike

Insurers Offer Advice

Several auto insurance companies have offered drivers advice that include tips on insurance claims from Allstate and car winterization recommendations from Esurance.

Last month, Online Auto Insurance published a two-part series on vehicle insurance and maintenance for motorists in the face of icy conditions.

About Charles Nguyen
Charles Nguyen is an enterprising journalist who reported for Patch.com and the Desert Dispatch and was the editor in chief of the Guardian (the twice-weekly newspaper at the University of California, San Diego) before coming to Online Auto Insurance News.

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