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EXPERT ADVICE: Insure your vehicle against storm damage

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by Duncan Hall

The key to staying safe in a hurricane lies in being prepared – and that includes getting the right insurance for your vehicle. 

Bermuda’s motor insurers provided advice on best practice, with the June 1 start of the Atlantic hurricane season quickly approaching. 

Damian Pitcher, assistant general manager at Coralisle Group (CG) said: “Review your insurance coverage prior to the storm. It is common for persons to believe they can claim from the property owner if the slate from the property owner’s roof is blown into their car and causes damage during a storm. 

“This is incorrect as the property owner is unlikely to be held liable due to a storm. This is why it’s best to insure your vehicle under a comprehensive policy to ensure you are fully covered.” 

Mr Pitcher also gave tips on what to do if your vehicle is damaged by high winds. 

He said: “Safeguard the vehicle to limit further damage, take photographs of the damage, notify your insurer in writing as soon as possible, and secure a repair estimate to submit to your insurer.” 

A spokesperson for BF&M said: “Should you need to make a claim about damages, take pictures of the damage if you can and include them with the claims submission form, along with a repair estimate. If you’re a BF&M customer, you can fill in the required form online and submit information via our website at any time. 

“If you cannot park the vehicle in a garage, park it away from trees and buildings to reduce the risk of damage from falling debris.” 

The property and casualty team at Freisenbruch-Meyer said: “When a hurricane passes through, most damage we are all familiar with happens to our homes or building structure. 

“But after every storm there are individuals who find that, despite best efforts to protect their prized possessions, something has happened to their vehicle that has caused significant damage. 

“What people need to know is that the damage would be covered under most local comprehensive motor policies. So they should contact their insurance company to report the claim as soon as they are able, and ideally with photos of the damage. 

“The insurer will advise whether they need to physically inspect the vehicle or if the vehicle owner should take it directly to a garage to obtain estimates – and if more than one estimate will be required. 

“Once estimates are obtained, the insurer will agree an amount with the owner to have the vehicle repaired, less any deductible. Depending on the circumstances, the insurer may pay that amount directly to the owner or, more commonly, would pay the garage for the repairs on their behalf.” 

Insurers also shared advice in response to at least six suspicious car fires that took place in Bermuda in March. 

Mr Pitcher of CG said: “Ensure your vehicle is serviced by a reputable mechanic/service technician regularly – at least once yearly.” 

He added: “Safeguard your vehicle as best as possible.” 

The BF&M spokesperson said: “Reduce the chances of your vehicle becoming a target by parking your vehicle securely on your property, or on a well-lit street if possible. 

As an additional general piece of advice, the spokesperson for BF&M added: “Vehicle thefts have been on the rise lately, and it makes sense not to leave keys in the ignition and not to leave valuables in the vehicle. 

“Should you ever need it, remember that BF&M offers 24/7 roadside assistance for bikes, cars and taxis to our motor customers who selected that service.” 

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