A tornado siren is blaring and you’re sheltering in place—the last thing you’re probably thinking about when a tornado barrels through town is your car, which is parked in your driveway with nothing to protect it from the elements. But after the storm is over and you safely make it outside, you see it: a tree limb has fallen on the dash of your car, shattering your windshield. The car has also suffered other damage from hail and debris. What do you do in a moment like that?
Here are some tips for safely seeking car repairs after a tornado.
Document the damage from a safe distance.
Documenting the damage with your smartphone will help speed up the process of filing a claim with your auto insurance and seeking repairs from an auto body shop near you. Proceed with caution, though – downed tree limbs and cables, broken glass and other debris can make this task dangerous after a tornado. Don’t try to remove any tree limbs or cables by yourself; wait for professional help. Make sure you’re wearing protective footwear and that you keep a safe distance from the vehicle as you take photos and video footage.
Inquire with your auto insurance.
Contact your auto insurance company to see if they will cover tornado damage for your vehicle. If it is covered, ask if you can submit photos and video of the damage, as well as additional documentation.
Collect documentation from first responders.
The police or fire department that responded to the storm may be able to provide you with an incident report that corroborates that your vehicle was indeed damaged by a tornado, but you will need to request this information from them. Understandably, this may not be a top-of-mind request immediately following a serious storm. You may be able to request this information later by calling the non-emergency line for the fire or police department. Once you have the documentation from first responders, you can add this to your insurance claim documentation.
Seek Repairs from a Local Auto Body or Auto Glass Shop
Even the smallest branches or limbs can cause damage, so look out for physical or cosmetic damage following a storm. If your vehicle requires, or should you choose to repair your vehicle, ask your local auto body or auto glass shop if they accept digital photos of vehicle damage to generate a virtual estimate and kick off the repair process. Professional collision repairers can repair your vehicle to pre-tornado condition, from external auto body damage to cleaning and detailing the inside of the vehicle to remove hazardous debris.