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Canadians are in for a stormy summer. How comprehensive insurance can protect your car

June 24, 2022
4 mins
View of a gravel road and stormy skies

Many Canadians are in for a summer of big storms, according to The Weather Network (TWN).

TWN is predicting above-normal precipitation and temperatures for Atlantic Canada, which could trigger a particularly active hurricane season. And above-normal levels of precipitation are also in the forecast across the Prairies through to Ontario and Quebec. TWN says the increased levels of humidity will usher in bigger storms than normal.

Southern Ontario and Quebec already got an early taste of this prediction, thanks to a deadly derecho that swept through both provinces in May, causing more than $875 million in insured damage.

With this in mind, it’s important to know about comprehensive insurance coverage and how it can protect your vehicle from weather-related damage we’re likely to see, such as fallen trees, hail, wind, and the like.

What is comprehensive insurance coverage?

Comprehensive insurance is an optional type of insurance coverage that is there to protect your vehicle from anything that's not a collision. Essentially, it’s coverage that protects your vehicle from perils like:

  • Fallen trees and branches
  • Hail
  • Wind
  • Lightning
  • Fire
  • Flooding
  • Vandalism
  • Theft

If you have comprehensive coverage and aren’t sure that a specific hazard is covered, look under the “specified perils” section of your policy. If you don’t currently have comprehensive coverage — and you might not if you own your car outright (it’s usually a requirement if you’re leasing or financing) — you may want to consider adding it to your policy, given the predicted summer conditions.

You can add comprehensive coverage at any time, as long as your policy is active, but it needs to be in place before your vehicle sustains any damage.

Protecting your vehicle from summer perils 

While many of these weather-related hazards are out of your control, there are steps you can take to protect your vehicle from many summertime perils.

Hailstorms 

A hailstorm can cause some nasty damage to your car. And while it might appear to be cosmetic in nature, even minor hail damage can result in vehicle rusting that can lead to more significant damage over time.

Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle in the event of hail damage, but you can also be proactive in protecting your vehicle if you know a storm is coming. Parking your vehicle in a garage or carport is ideal, but if that’s not possible, there are hail-proof car covers available that can help protect your ride.

Falling trees and branches

Another threat to your vehicle in stormy weather is falling trees and branches. You can’t really control if a tree or branch falls on your vehicle, but that doesn’t mean you’re hopeless.

Simply choosing a parking spot carefully is one of the easiest ways to ensure your vehicle doesn’t fall victim to a wayward limb. Avoid parking directly under large trees or those that look like they aren’t in good condition whenever possible, but especially if the weather is taking a turn for the worst.

If you’re using a car cover, it should provide protection from damage caused by smaller branches, though maybe not larger ones. In the event a tree falls on your vehicle, your comprehensive insurance covers you.

Flooding

Flooding events are becoming more common in North America leaving many motorists stranded. Whether you drive through a large puddle of water or are parked in an area that becomes flooded, your comprehensive insurance should cover any claim, up to the policy limit.

It makes sense to purchase collision coverage as some insurance providers may determine you "hit" the water and therefore would need collision coverage to make a claim. That said, your insurance provider could deny your claim if it determines you had another option instead of driving through flood water, which can cause engine damage so severe that in many cases, it’s not worth repairing the vehicle.

If this is the case, the insurance company may pay out the value of the vehicle rather than pay for repairs.

Making a comprehensive car insurance claim

When making a claim through your comprehensive coverage, you may be responsible for the deductible, which is the amount of money you are required to pay out-of-pocket toward any claim before your insurance company pays out the remainder.

Keep in mind that comprehensive coverage pays for only the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle up to its actual cash value. In some cases (such as if your vehicle is older) it may not be worth having. However, for many drivers, it offers peace of mind that if their car is damaged by unexpected situations, such as treacherous weather, they won’t be left stranded.

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Caitlin McCormack

Caitlin McCormack is a writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in MSN, Food Network, HuffPost, What to Expect, Today's Parent, and Mashable, among others. When she isn't writing, she's busy chasing after her two sons, testing out new recipes, and working on her century-old fixer-upper.

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