El Nino darkens insurer warning on U.S.-leading Fla. risk

flood carFlorida leads the nation in water-related car insurance claims from January to March, Farmers Insurance figures — and strange weather conditions only make the forecast worse.

Weather weirdness including the effects of the global pattern known as El Nino gave the Eastern U.S. blazing Christmas heat, then warnings of Snowmaggedon. In Florida, El Nino may be helping thwart summer hurricanes, but what’s normally the dry season has been deluged by fierce stretches of rain, flooding and hazardous conditions for drivers.

Florida leads Virginia, Indiana and New Jersey for the highest proportion of seasonal water damage claims for cars based on 2013-15 Farmers claims. Hazards range from cars stuck in flooding to skidding on wet roads. The company is just one carrier among many in the market, but the snapshot suggests Florida — with its flat landscape, canals, and the nation’s most flood policies on properties — best be on alert this winter.

“El Nino is only going to exacerbate that,” said Paul Quinn, head of claims customer experience at Farmers.

Among the company’s advice:

„*Avoid parking your car along streams, rivers or creeks when there is potential for inclement weather.
„*In the event of flooding or heavy rainfall, move your car to higher ground to avoid water damage, if possible. If your car is stuck or otherwise undrivable, hire a tow truck to move it for you rather than leaving it in harm’s way.
„* Never drive into or across flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, leave your vehicle and move to higher ground.
„*Keep an eye on your paint job to help prevent water damage. When paint starts to crack, etch or chip off, it exposes the car’s body to moisture, which can start to rust and corrode the metal. Left untreated, rust can weaken the car’s body, eat holes in it, and expose vital parts.
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