It’s been a disastrous first four months of 2011 for much of the southern United States. That region is trying to recover from the deadliest series of tornadoes to strike the nation since 1932. Hundreds of people are confirmed dead and countless others are injured. During a visit to a region, President Obama called the devastation “catastrophic” and “heartbreaking.”
The National Weather Service says that so far this year, over 160 deadly tornadoes have been reported in several states, including Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Georgia. Some of these twisters were designated with an EF-5 rating, which represents the highest level of damage that can be classified.
Naturally, authorities are estimating financial losses in the billions of dollars. As you can see from these photos, a great deal of the tornado damage was inflicted upon cars, trucks, and other vehicles.
These pictures remind us of the destructive fury which accompany tornadoes. Not only did trees and debris smash into cars, but many vehicles were actually picked up and tossed around like toys. Passenger vehicles are designed to withstand damage in motor vehicle accidents, but they are not sturdy enough to handle Mother Nature.
Extensive damage to vehicles means that thousands of people in the South will be filing auto insurance claims in the coming weeks and months. Usually, tornado-related damage is covered under an auto insurance policy’s comprehensive coverage (although it is always a good idea to confirm this with your agent or seek out this clause in your policy). This means that after policyholders pay their deductibles, the insurance companies will reimburse car owners for repair costs up to the book value of the vehicle. In many cases, the insurers will declare these vehicles to be “totaled,” meaning that the firms will just pay out what the car was worth.
But people who have their cars totaled may be left in a lurch. The car insurance settlement check may only be enough to finish paying off the vehicle. If the policyholder has already paid off the auto note, the disbursement amount may not even be enough for a down payment on a replacement vehicle (depending on the age of the car or truck).
Perhaps the saddest aspect to tornado-related auto damage is that there was very little that vehicle owners could have done to guard against such a calamity. When driving, there are plenty of safety measures that can be taken to minimize the chances of an auto accident (and the subsequent insurance claim). But when Mother Nature decides to toss a tornado at a vehicle, the damage is as predictable as it is unavoidable.
Image credits: nola.com, usatoday.com, blog.al.com, finance-commerce.com, mnn.com, stlamerican.com, wgnc.net, vosizneias.com, manilatimes.net, oregonlive.com, knoxvilledailysun.com, cdispatch.com.