How climate change will affect warmer climates is a whole different story. The areas of desert in the West and Southwest will most likely suffer debilitating droughts. The effects of drought on auto insurance are a little harder to predict, though extremely high temperatures will be dangerous for drivers.
The more you have to run your air conditioning, the more likely it is that your car will overheat. This can lead to the engine seizing up and causing damage that’s beyond repair. Orefice warns that “pretty much every part of the car has to work harder because of heat,” so he recommends that drivers in warm climates keep up with maintenance and have roadside assistance coverage.
As the planet warms and droughts get more intense, wildfires have become much more frequent. Parts of the Mountain West, California and the Pacific Northwest — areas that usually have a fire season — have seen incredibly destructive fires that are harder to control. As climate change worsens these areas’ fires, drivers should be considering comprehensive insurance to cover repairs related to fire damage.
Gap insurance may also come in handy, as a wildfire can easily destroy a car. If you still owe money on your auto loan, the payout from a comprehensive insurance claim might not be enough to pay the loan off. A gap insurance policy can help cover the difference.
Hurricanes and Derechos
The Southeast and parts of the Midwest — areas of the country with more humid climates — will likely see an increase in storms. The East Coast’s hurricane season is already worsening, producing more frequent and deadlier storms. Derechos, powerful wind storms also known as inland hurricanes, have also become more common, especially in the Midwest.
Both hurricanes and derechos pose significant threats through flooding from torrential rain or storm surge. Like drivers in both colder and more arid environments, those on or around the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts should consider comprehensive coverage as climate change worsens.
A comprehensive policy won’t cover water damage from internal leaks or windows left open in a rainstorm, but it will cover damage from a flood.
Though it’s possible to prepare your car for extended cold periods and winter weather, flooding poses a more significant threat because a vehicle’s main electrical components aren’t waterproof. Orefice believes that in addition to insurance providers, automakers will have to take new steps to protect cars from the effects of climate change.
“Beyond military-grade vehicles, like the Humvee, there really are no climate-proof vehicles,” he says. He predicts that “manufacturers will begin to design waterproof systems and switches in cars as floods intensify.”
Preparing for Climate Change
If climate change is already here, how can we adapt? It may not be possible to fully climate-proof your vehicle, but there are ways to protect yourself and your car. Kleinekoort recommends making fuel efficiency a priority.
“You can significantly contribute to reducing climate change by improving the performance and MPG of your vehicle,” he says.
In addition to increasing your vehicle’s fuel efficiency or purchasing a more environmentally friendly car, Kleinekoort recommends driving less frequently and for shorter distances.
As climate-related disasters worsen, both drivers and auto insurance providers will need to adapt. Drivers will likely have to accept that car insurance premiums will get more expensive as natural disasters occur more frequently. On the other hand, to keep car insurance rates as affordable as possible to retain customers, providers may create new products designed to protect drivers from localized weather events.