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Prepare your vehicle before a hurricane strikes

Added August 8, 2019
River cresting over a road

Hurricanes are devasting storms, bringing high winds, heavy rain, and floods. Thankfully, there’s usually a few days’ warning before these storms make landfall.
 
And while that notice provides time for last-minute preparations and evacuation, if you live in an area prone to hurricanes, you should prepare year-round—not just during the customary June–November hurricane season.

Routine car maintenance

Vehicles are often neglected as part of hurricane prep. Regular vehicle maintenance is important to the health of your car or truck any time of year, but you certainly want your vehicle in proper working condition when you need it to evacuate or use it to transport your belongings to a safe location.

Here’s what you should keep track of throughout the year:

  • Proper tire inflation and tread life: Regularly check your tire pressure and the amount of tread left. Be familiar with the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure and keep your tires within that range.
  • Condition of windshield wipers: Visibility is everything. Your wipers are especially needed during heavy rainfall and high winds that accompany hurricanes. Maintain and replace your wipers as needed.
  • Fuel level: Yes, the gas gauge tells you when you need to fill up. However, when a storm is approaching, don’t wait to top off your tank. Fuel will be in demand, and shortages can occur.
  • Other fluid levels: This includes oil; coolant; and transmission, brake, and power steering fluids.
  • Battery life: An approaching hurricane is no time for a dead battery. Monitor your dash warnings and make battery condition part of your maintenance checklist.

If you’re not comfortable doing some of these actions on your own, set a regular maintenance schedule with a local automotive shop. They can perform all of these duties in one appointment. They’ll let you know the status of each item on your maintenance list and advise when action is needed.

Assemble an emergency kit

While it’s always a good idea to have an emergency kit in your car, it’s even more important during severe weather events because of the increase in road hazards, road closures, travel delays, and possible increased travel distances. You want to prepare for the unexpected.

A vehicle emergency kit should include:

  • Water
  • Blanket
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Tool kit
  • Tire jack
  • Spare tire
  • Small gas container

Unless you wait too long, you can usually get a complete emergency kit at retail stores or online, or you can piece one together as you see fit.

Vehicle safety before and after a hurricane

As a hurricane or severe weather approaches, try to keep your vehicle in a safe place like a garage or parking structure. If that’s not an option, try to park in an area away from trees, power lines, light poles, advertising signs, and other objects that could topple in high winds.

If you must venture out during the storm, use extra caution while driving. Power will likely be out, meaning there’ll be no traffic signals. Watch for road hazards and downed power lines.

If a road is flooded, don’t attempt to drive through it. You can’t see any hazards beneath the water, and even just a foot of water can cause a vehicle to float away. Six inches of water will likely reach the bottom of most cars, leading to loss of control and stalling. Follow the mantra, “Turn around, don’t drown.”

If evacuation is likely, get familiar with local evacuation routes and know where to find higher ground.

Keep your insurance up to date

You always want to make sure you’re meeting your state’s minimum car insurance requirements. It’s the law, after all. However, you’ll especially want to make sure you have the proper coverages in place for severe events like hurricanes.

Collision coverage is likely something you want. This coverage not only covers the cost of repairs if you’re in an accident, but it also covers damage to your car if you hit another object like a pole or fence.

Comprehensive coverage covers other types of losses that are considered “acts of God,” like flooding, storm damage, and falling objects.

Know beforehand what coverages are included in your current policy. Have questions? Be sure to contact your insurance company or agent.

If you incur vehicle damage, call your auto insurance company as soon as you can. You want to get back on the road again right away, and the storm will leave many other drivers in the same situation. Acting quickly means you’ll beat the rush to file a claim and get the car to a repair shop.

Be sure to include photos or video of the damage, as well as a detailed list of the damage incurred.

Damage beyond landfall

It’s not just people who live near a coast that need to worry about hurricanes. Often, tropical storms trigger heavy rains, storm surge, and flooding that can reach hundreds of miles inland.

Hurricanes are dangerous events. However, with planning, preparation, and a calm demeanor, you can help mitigate some of the impacts.

Related links

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Getting your vehicle fixed involves a lot of questions. Where can I go to get it fixed? Who pays for what? How do I get it to a shop?  We have the answers to your claims questions.

 

This document is made available by Sentry Insurance a Mutual Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates (collectively “SIAMCO”) with the understanding that SIAMCO is not engaged in the practice of law, nor is it rendering legal advice. The information contained in this document is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Legal obligations may vary by state and locality. No one should act on the information contained in this document without legal advice from competent and licensed local professionals. THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT IS DISTRIBUTED BYSIAMCO “AS-IS”, WITHOUT ANYWARRANTIES. SIAMCO WILL HAVE NO LIABILITYTO ANYPERSON OR ENTITYWITH RESPECT TO ANYLOSSES OR DAMAGES CAUSED, OR ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN CAUSED, DIRECTLYOR INDIRECTLYBYTHIS DOCUMENT, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER SUCH CLAIM IS BASED ON CONTRACT, WARRANTY, TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE AND FOR PROPERTYDAMAGE AND DEATH) OR OTHER GROUNDS.