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Top states for major Auto insurance hazards from Spring weather

Hail, flooding and tornadoes are among the threats your vehicles face from spring storms. (Photo: iStock)
Hail, flooding and tornadoes are among the threats your vehicles face from spring storms. (Photo: iStock)

You might think that most of the damage to your car is likely to come from a collision, but there are other ways that beautiful paint job could get scratched.

According to the Farmers Insurance Seasonal Smarts Digest, car claims related to the dangers of hail, rising water and flooding, sleeping at the wheel, glass damage, and tornadoes all present major hazards for drivers as spring’s warmer weather arrives.

Farmers Insurance analyzed customer claims data from 2013 through 2015 to uncover which states face an increased risk of major spring hazards. If you drive regularly in one of these states, you should contact your insurance agent or broker to be sure that you have the right coverage for your motor vehicle. If you use your vehicle in your business — or your employees have company cars — it’s important to confirm that these vehicles are insured correctly.

Related: 10 red flags that could signal a fraudulent Auto claim

Here are the top states for Auto insurance claims from hail, rising water and floods, and tornadoes:

Hail damage on a car

The biggest month for hail-related Auto damage claims is May. (Photo: iStock)

Hail

As the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory explains, hail is a frequent by-product of spring (and summer) thunderstorms. Hail stones are actually layered ice balls that form when updrafts in thunderstorms carry droplets of rain upward and into very cold upper layers of the atmosphere. They then freeze into typically irregularly shaped balls of ice and are classified as hail if they have a diameter of at least 0.20 inches (5 mm). When frozen hailstones become too heavy to stay aloft, gravity pulls them down toward the earth. Hail falls in paths known as hail swaths. Affected areas can range up to 100 miles long.

According to Farmers’ claims data, 58% of all annual hail claims related to damage to vehicles are reported between March and May. May tends to be the height of hail damage season, with 29% of hail claims occurring in this month.

If you live in one of the following five states, your motor vehicle is especially vulnerable:

  • Kansas: 77%
  • Nebraska: 77%
  • Oklahoma: 76%
  • Montana: 73%
  • Texas: 54%

Related: All hail, spring is here!

 

Flooded car

Half of all flooding-related Auto claims take place in the spring. (Photo: iStock)

Rising water and floods

Spring is the time of year when drivers can encounter significant flooding — especially as winter snow melts and combines with abundant spring rain showers, observes the Farmers report.

Drivers are reminded that some roads are known to flood easily or suddenly because of poor drainage, uneven road grading and other factors. Other times, unexpected storms, overflowing levees, and damaged dams can overwhelm roads and cause hazardous driving conditions.

Flash floods can often bring rolling water ranging from 10 to 15 feet high. It takes as little as two feet of rushing water to carry away a car, despite it weighing a few thousand pounds when dry. Moreover, if you think your state’s roads are not at risk, think again. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, in the past five years, all 50 states have experienced some level of flooding, including flash flooding.

More than half (51%) of all rising water and flooding claims occur in the spring between March and May. Farmers noted that 2015 proved to be an especially treacherous year, as rising water and flooding claims more than quadrupled from the same three-month window in 2014.

One more thing that rising water and flooding hazards have in common is that they can cause or aggravate potholes — those nasty craters that form in roads after water seeps in. The Farmers report says that pothole damage accounts for nearly 500,000 vehicle insurance claims every year.

According to Farmers’ claims data, the following five states have the most rising water and flooding Auto insurance claims (percentages not provided):

  • Texas.
  • Illinois.
  • Alabama.
  • Oklahoma.
  • Florida.

Related: 8 ways to mitigate flooding risks

Tornado leaves cars stacked on each other

Sixty-three percent of Auto claims for tornado damage are filed between March and May. (Photo: iStock)

Tornadoes

The National Severe Storms Laboratory defines a tornado as a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a cloud or thunderstorm to the ground. The funnel clouds can pack extremely damaging winds as well as water droplets, dust and debris; they’re considered the most violent of atmospheric storms.

For reasons that are still unknown, the United States has more tornadoes than any other place in the world.

The Farmers report notes that, on average, 403 tornadoes occurred annually between March and May from 2013 to 2015. Of 2015’s tornados, 59% occurred during this three-month window. Additionally, seven of the top 10 days for greatest tornado activity in 2015 occurred in the month of May.

As a result, Farmers found, nearly two-thirds (63%) of tornado-related Auto claims are filed between March and May.

Here are the top five states for tornado-related Auto claims:

  • Oklahoma.
  • Alabama.
  • Arkansas.
  • Missouri.
  • Florida.

Related: Storm leaves parts of Midwest buried in snow, sets off tornadoes in the South

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