Serving clients in Fayetteville and all of NW Arkansas
In Northwest Arkansas, we are lucky to have a diverse landscape including mountainous terrain. It is likely that these features reduce our risk to experience tornadoes relative to the rest of the state. However, the area is certainly not immune to severe weather and tornadoes. While the largest and most destructive tornado to hit the area was probably back in 1970, significant have occurred in recent years.
However, even when a tornado fails to form, the area can still be affected by violent storms producing high winds, blowing debris, hail, and torrential downpours. As we move into spring and summer and, thus the most likely time for severe weather events, it is important for people to understand what their car insurance covers and what it does not should their car suffer damage due to severe weather. Please note that the following is generalized advice and the exact provisions of your insurance policy may differ. However, if you believe that you have coverage and that the insurance company is improperly disclaiming coverage, contact an experienced lawyer who can negotiate and seek a solution for you.
Comprehensive Car Insurance Typically Covers Most Severe Weather Damage
All drivers in Arkansas are required to carry liability insurance. Liability insurance covers the damages suffered by another by the driver determined to be at-fault for the accident. Minimum liability coverage in Arkansas includes coverage for bodily injury and property damage.
However, comprehensive insurance is also available and is often a prudent purchasing decision. Comprehensive car insurance will provide compensation for damages caused to your vehicle due to acts of nature and other events that are not typically associated with the regular operation of a car, truck, or another motor vehicle. It is also important to note that Arkansas state law requires insurers to also offer clients the opportunity to purchase coverage for uninsured motorist bodily and property damage and underinsured motorist coverage for bodily injury and personal injury protection coverage.
Therefore, should your car suffer mild, moderate, or severe damage due to blowing debris, the vehicle being flipped due to high winds, or denting and scratching due to hail the comprehensive policy should cover the damage. However, if you only purchased the minimum levels of liability coverage, your damage is unlikely to be covered by the insurer.
What If Another Car Hits My Vehicle Due to the Severe Weather?
In this case, the exact nature of the collision would come into play. On one hand, if the other driver’s vehicle was flipped or thrown into yours due to the force of the wind, this crash would likely be attributed to the weather and not the other driver. Therefore, comprehensive coverage would likely predominate in this scenario.
However, let’s say that you were driving during the storm and another driver loses control of his or her vehicle due to the low-visibility and standing water on the roadway. The driver’s vehicle careens out of control and slams into the back of your vehicle. In this case, it is likely but not definite, that the collision coverage held by the other driver would kick-in and cover your damage. One item to note is that if the at-fault driver is underinsured or uninsured, he or she may lack sufficient or any coverage to cover your damages. Therefore, having underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage becomes very important even in circumstances where severe weather is in play. However, if the vehicle that struck your car was being driven when picked-up by the winds or a tornado and was carried into your vehicle, it would probably go back to your comprehensive coverage.
Work With an Experienced Insurance Claims Lawyer
Therefore, it is safe to say that the damage caused by a storm can raise some interesting and perhaps unexpectedly complicated issues regarding insurance coverage. In some cases, it may be clear as to exactly the type of insurance coverage that should apply. However, in other cases, there may be a question as to whether the damage can be attributed to a motorist or to an act of nature. Typically, it is in these scenarios where insurers will attempt to disclaim coverage or otherwise limit the amount of damage you can claim. Remember, even though you pay the insurance company, their best interests are represented by a minimization of claims payouts. Therefore, your first offer is rarely the best offer.
If an insurance company appears to be engaging in bad-faith on your claim, contact personal injury attorney Ken Kieklak. Ken has fought for the people of northwest Arkansas for more than 20 years. To schedule a free and confidential legal consultation call (479) 251-7767 today or contact us online.
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