Driving in the Dallas / Fort Worth area is always entertaining when we have an ice storm. Those of us who grew up in Texas or the southern parts of the country are just not very good at driving on ice, although I don’t know anyone who is. Aside from the normal slipping and sliding on LBJ or North Central Expressway, we learned that “cobblestone” ice can be just as challenging as sheet ice. There were also some interesting things that occurred with falling or flying ice that led to a number of car insurance claims.
To illustrate, let’s take a look at two examples of flying and falling ice. There was interesting video WFAA and KXAS played on their nightly newscast. Several cars were parked on the street in front of the apartments at The Shops in Legacy complex two weeks ago. The roof of the apartments was covered in sheets of ice an inch or two in thickness. The afternoon sun had warmed the roofs just enough for the ice to lose its grip on the roof resulting in large sheets to slide off the roof and fall three stories onto the parked cars below.
Damage from the falling ice included smashed windshields and rear windows and dented hoods, trunks, and tops of the cars. An owner of a Jaguar came out to find his roof had been caved in several inches. Each vehicle sustained thousands of dollars in damages with one or two being potentially totaled.
There were also several instances where ice had formed on the tops of 18 wheeler trailers and box trucks. I received a call from one of my clients who was driving behind a box truck on LBJ Freeway, when a large piece of ice loosened from the top of the truck was lifted by the wind and became airborne. The ice flipped a few times in the wind before landing on the top of my client’s car.
Fortunately, the ice did not go through the windshield. This was not the case, however, for two people in Forney who were driving behind an 18 wheeler when ice lifted off from the trailer and smashed through the windshield, showering the occupants in glass.
What do these instances have in common? In the case of cars parked in front of the apartments, the apartment complex owners and management company are not responsible for the damage to the vehicles. The owners will need to file insurance claims with their insurance companies. This type of claim is a comprehensive claim; something fell onto the car or truck. As long as they have comprehensive coverage, they are covered. Hopefully they have enough property damage coverage to take care of the damages or total out the car.
In the case of my client, this claim can become a little tricky as it is open to some level of interpretation by the claim adjuster.
- Some adjusters will determine it to be a collision claim as the car collided with the ice.
- Other adjusters may determine it to be a comprehensive claim in much the same way hitting an animal is a comprehensive claim.
For those adjusters that decide this is a collision or accident, some may determine it to be an at-fault claim on the basis that the driver should have allowed enough space between themselves and the vehicle in front of them so they could avoid the ice. Other adjusters will view it as a not-at-fault because the ice flew off of the truck and landed on the car. In the case of my client, he was surrounded by cars and had nowhere to go (he couldn’t change lanes). It will be interesting to see how this one turns out.
Both of these incidents provide great reminders to drivers in north Texas and elsewhere when snow or ice arrives.
- Provide some extra room between yourself and other drivers.
- It takes longer to turn and brake so factor that in when driving.
- If you do not have anti-lock brakes, don’t slam on your brakes. The wheels will lock up causing your vehicle to slide and it’s harder to steer.
- If you drive a pickup truck put some sand or other weight in the back to provide better traction.
- Watch for snow and ice to fly off other vehicles including cars and trucks.
- Keep your windows and headlights clear to enhance your visibility.
- Review your policy to confirm you have enough property damage coverage to protect you financially if your car were totaled because something fell on it or was involved in an accident.
Remember to look up when parking! You never know when something might fall on your car. What questions, suggestions, or comments do you have? Share them with me in the comments section of our blog or on our Google + or Facebook pages. I’d love to hear from you.