10 July 2014

It’s Storm Season: A preparation guide for collectors

Severe weather is the culprit for ruining thousands of collector cars every year. Whether hurricane, tornado, flood or hail, nothing can prepare classic car owners for the mental anguish from loss or damage caused by Mother Nature, but there are several precautions that they can take to protect themselves and their vehicles.

First and foremost, a classic owner's insurance policy should be reviewed to ensure it is up to date; they should also understand all the coverages. Now would be a good time to call policyholders before the storm to be sure that they understand what is covered. Insurance companies are unlikely to be able to make changes such as vehicle additions or coverage increases right before a big storm hits, so be sure to make these changes as far in advance as possible.

The insured should make sure their cars are locked safely in a garage or storage unit — preferably in a building away from large overhanging tree limbs. If possible, they should park away from windows in case of breakage, and cover the vehicle with a cloth car cover. Make sure their garage door’s track system can resist high-winds; double doors require special attention because harsh conditions can place great stress on the center-latch mechanism. If they reside in a low-lying area prone to flooding, they may consider storing their collector(s) on blocks or a lift to prevent water damage. Cautious collectors are beginning to follow the notion of storing their cars away from their homes if they live in vulnerable areas, even if it means that it is less convenient to use them.

Speaking of water damage, traveling down a road submerged in water is a big no-no. Underlying currents could carry a vehicle away and the car could stall, trapping a person in rising floodwaters. Deep water dangers during storms should not be overlooked; if an attempt is made to drive through deep water, not only personal safety is at risk, but a car could be gravely damaged — possibly resulting in a total loss.

If living in a hurricane-prone area, everyone should have an evacuation plan for theirs and their families’ safety. Everyone inhabiting the Gulf Coast needs to establish a safe-haven to the east, and another to the west. Residents from certain areas of Florida, Texas, and along the Atlantic need to move either north or south; residents in the northern hemisphere would normally want to be to the west and/or south of a hurricane, since that's where the storm is usually weakest.

If an evacuation is necessary, whether in a daily driver or collector, there are a few things to keep in mind. Watch for downed power lines blowing or laying across the roads, and never attempt to drive over them even if they do not appear to be “live”. As visibility worsens, slow down but try not to stop on the roadway, and if you must stop, pull over to the shoulder of the road and use your emergency lights when available. Remember, it’s not likely that a classic car has anti-lock brakes, so leave extra stopping distances for emergencies.

Once the storm has passed, the insured should take notes and photos of any damage that may have occurred and give you a call to notify you of any loss. From there, after your call to Hagerty, we will begin the claims process in order to make the client whole again.

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