Ohio Insurance Group Advises Consumers After Severe Storms

Officials in Ohio are advising consumers about possible insurance needs after severe storms felled trees and flooded streets throughout the state this week.

“Most of the damages” caused by Wednesday’s storms can be addressed by providers of home, auto and renters coverage, according to the Ohio Insurance Institute (OII).

Vehicles were especially vulnerable to storm conditions that included downed trees and flash floods, according to reports from the National Weather Service (NWS).

Comprehensive, Collision Coverage Addresses Car Insurance Needs

Mitch Wilson, OII’s vice president of public information and education, told Online Auto Insurance News (OAIN) that policyholders with comprehensive coverage, sometimes called “other-than-collision” coverage, would be compensated against most kinds of damage caused by the severe weather, minus the deductible.

This optional type of coverage can address “vehicles pot-marked by hail or damaged by flooding,” he said. Comprehensive coverage can also address other nature-related damage, like tree branches falling and breaking windshields or crushing car roofs.

Wilson also offered advice if a policyholder finds more harsh weather on the way.

“If severe weather threatens, move your car under cover to prevent damage from high winds, flying debris and hail,” he told OAIN.

Collision coverage, another optional purchase on an auto policy, can also offer protection against the damage wrought by stormy weather. This type of coverage would be useful if weather conditions is a direct cause of  a driver colliding with an object. For example, collision coverage would protect a policyholder against damage from heavy rains that make roads slick enough for him or her to lose control of the vehicle and slide into a guard rail.

The Insurance Information Institution provides a resource on filing auto claims, Wilson said, while the OII provides a resource on settling auto claims.

Severe Weather Included Floods, Winds

Wilson said that Wednesday’s severe weather conditions were “fairly widespread” but much was concentrated in northeastern Ohio.

One tornado had been confirmed by Thursday, said Wilson, who added that it will take up to a month for the OII to obtain claims figures and project insured losses stemming from the storms.

A flood near Cincinnati closed off a part of Interstate 75 in Hamilton County “due to high water,” according to the NWS. Other flood conditions were reported in nearby Brown County, where there was “high water on roadways.”

Wind damage from thunderstorms was also reported throughout the state, including downtown areas of Columbus. According to afternoon reports from the capitol on Wednesday, large “hardwood trees” in Schiller park were knocked over and “large branches fell on vehicles.”

Wilson said that claims figures and losses estimates would be available in about a month, during which the OII will likely conduct a claims survey of its insurers.

Summer Marks One-Year Anniversary of Harsh Storms in Ohio

The state also just passed the one-year anniversary of “derecho” storms that struck in June last year and caused insured losses that the OII estimated was upwards of $800 million.

According to the NWS, a derecho is a rare storm type characterized by swirling gusts of “long-lived, violent straight-line” winds that cause a “significant amount of damage.”

The OII noted the one-year anniversary with a retrospective on Ohio’s “wind and hailstorm history.”

Last summer in Ohio, both derecho and other severe weather events combined for a harsh six days stretching between late June and early July. Tens of millions in auto-related losses relating to those storms was reported, according to the OII, which also reported the “derecho” storms and Superstorm Sandy contributed to 2012 being  the second-costliest year in insured losses ever for the Buckeye State.

The OII has no estimates from claims surveys for this summer yet, according to Wilson. State officials also have no forecasts on possible weather systems to hit the state during the rest of the season.

“If we only had that crystal ball,” he told OAIN.

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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