In Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, classic-car collectors learned some valuable lessons. American Modern® wants to impart those lessons onto all of our agents so you can help your customers plan ahead as the two most critical storm months, August and September, approach. The following tips will guide your customers to better protect their rides from hurricanes that may barrel through.
There’s no getting around it, the importance of buying specialized insurance is probably the most valuable advice that you can share with your clients. A standard auto policy will only pay what is defined as “the actual cash value,” which may be many thousands of dollars below the collector vehicles’ true market value. Make sure your customers have plans in place to cover their collector car needs.
Beyond securing the appropriate insurance policy for your client, you can expand your efforts to help owners take preventive measures when it comes to hurricanes. The two major things that are going to affect collector vehicles during a storm are strong winds and high water.
In the days before Sandy hit, a number of American Modern policyholders accepted the company’s offer to transport their cars to safer locations of their choosing. That’s the level of service we want to continue offering.
Here are some tips to share with your customers to keep collector cars safe before a hurricane:
- Have an evacuation route planned.
Before a storm hits, make sure you have a plan in place to ensure you and your family are safe before all else. Then, include a safe place to leave your classic, and plan two routes to get there in case one is blocked.
- Fill the collector vehicle up with fuel.
If possible, try to fill up your collector car with fuel before a hurricane hits. (Often these cars are driven less, and owners are less aware of the fuel tank level.) If you have gas in your car, you may be able to drive to safety if the storm is less intense than predicted. Fuel supplies are often disrupted during storms, so having a full tank is wise.
- Park smart: less exposure is better.
The best option to protect collector vehicles it is to park it somewhere safe. Tall buildings offer at least partial protection. After wind and flooding, flying debris, branches, and powerlines will be the most harmful things to avoid.
- Keep up with routine maintenance.
Because collector vehicles get less routine road time, it’s important to check the oil and other essential fluids, install new windshield wipers, and check the tires.
- Secure your garage.
The garage door is the largest and weakest entry point to the home, with about 80% of hurricane damage starting here. Make sure your garage door is made of solid material such as steel or thick wood to withstand the high winds of a hurricane. In addition, install vertical braces and consider strengthening the tracking system of the door. This will not only protect your vehicle, but your entire home. Entry doors to your garage should have at least three hinges and the dead bolt security lock should be one-inch long.
- Build ahead.
Having a sharp slope leading up to your garage is a great place to start if you are planning to build a home for your ride in an area prone to flooding. Install flood vents, as they offer permanent openings in the foundation’s walls to allow water to escape. And, any electrical panels, outlets, switches, light sockets, baseboard heaters, and wiring must be at least 12 inches above flood level. (To avoid electrocution, have a licensed electrician connect all receptacles to a GFI circuit.)
- Jack it up.
If you have the proper roof height, put in a lift or jack up your car so that it can gain an even higher position.
How to keep collector cars safe after a hurricane
- Don’t drive in floods.
Probably the most important piece of advice is that you shouldn’t drive into floods. This may seem obvious, but keep in mind that even a foot of standing water can render some cars inoperable, and it’s hard to know how deep the water is. If a road is under water, it presents a hazard. Simply put, driving into a flood or a flooded area isn’t worth the risk
- Make sure the coast is clear.
Be sure to check for downed power lines or gas leaks as well as rodents or snakes that might have taken refuge in your home garage.
- Safety first.
Wear heavy shoes and clothing while checking the damage to protect yourself against injury from debris. Also, water may have leaked into the walls and ceiling of your home and garage, so watch for falling walls and plaster as well as for water on the floor.
- Hire a tow.
Although the first instinct may be to prop your vehicle up on blocks or jacks to keep it dry, this may cause damage to the suspension. If necessary, store classics elsewhere until all necessary repairs are made to your home.
- File any claims.
Make sure your customers are prioritizing their claims. Once their own health and home claims have been tended to, they should quickly move onto their collector vehicle claims.
Needless to say, hurricane safety does not end with the hurricane, so make sure your clients wait until authorities tell them it’s safe to return home if an evacuation is ordered. And flooding and debris can continue to create new hazards even after the hurricane has passed. While there’s no fail-safe way to ensure your customers’ collector cars will be 100% protected in a severe storm, we can prepare them with these great tips before their vintage rides encounter a natural disaster. And empowering them before a storm ensures they will know exactly what steps to take once the storm has completely passed. American Modern’s goal is to help you, our agents, as well as your customers during life’s biggest storms, and make sure you reach calm seas again.
For information only. Not applicable to all situations.
Coverage is subject to policy terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, underwriting review, and approval, and may not be available for all risks or in all states. Rates and discounts vary, are determined by many factors and are subject to change. Policies are written by one of the licensed insurers of American Modern Insurance Group, Inc., including American Modern Home Insurance Company d/b/a in CA American Modern Insurance Company (Lic. No 2222-8).
 The New York Times. “A Year After Sandy, Collectors Consider the Lessons” By Jim Koscs, OCT. 18, 2013