Progressive: Preparation Key for Protecting Vehicles, Boats for Wilma

This year’s record-setting storm season continues as Hurricane Wilma builds intensity and aims to strike Florida’s southwest coast this weekend. The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies, insurer of about one in 10 Florida drivers, has set plans in motion to help drivers whose cars, RVs, boats or motorcycles are damaged as a result of Wilma.

“We have the people and processes in place to ensure that our customers will experience no delay in reporting their claim or getting it settled,” said Scott Snapp, catastrophe response director, Progressive. Since Aug. 29, Progressive Claims Service has deployed more than 1,000 claims representatives throughout the Gulf region who are working with customers in areas hit by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. To date, Progressive has settled about 80 percent of these claims.

Progressive reminds its customers to call 1-800-PROGRESSIVE (1-800-776-4737), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to report any claims incurred from Hurricane Wilma.

Progressive shares the following tips for protecting your vehicles or boat before, during and after Hurricane Wilma:

Before the Storm

— Drivers in the hurricane’s path who are not going to be
driving their car or recreational vehicle to safety should
park it in a garage or as close as possible to a sturdy
building; don’t leave the vehicle in a low-lying area prone to
flooding. If you have to park your vehicle outdoors, cover it
and park it away from trees, poles or other large objects that
may fall onto it.

— Boats and trailers should be moved inland and stored inside a
garage or warehouse. If left outside, make sure you have the
mooring hardware and equipment you need to secure it. Be sure
the trailer is anchored or at least attached firmly to the
ground or a building and let the air out of the tires so it
doesn’t easily roll away during the storm.

During the Storm

— Avoid driving through standing water. An automobile can be
swept off the road in as little as 12 inches of moving water.
Avoid driving on coastal or low-lying roads as roads covered
by water are prone to collapse. If you come upon a flooded
street, take an alternate route.

— If no alternate route exists and you have no other reasonable
alternative but to drive through standing water…

— Do your best to estimate the depth of the water (if other
cars are driving through, take note of how deep the water
is).

— Drive SLOWLY and STEADILY through the water.

— Once you and your vehicle are out of deep water and are in
a safe area, depress your brakes slowly to dry them.

— If your vehicle stalls in the deep water, you may need to
restart the engine to make it to safety (know, however,
that restarting may cause irreparable damage to the
engine).

— If you can’t restart your vehicle and you become trapped
in rising water, IMMEDIATELY ABANDON FOR HIGHER GROUND. If
you are unable to get out of the vehicle safely, call 911
or get the attention of a passerby or someone standing on
higher ground.

After the Storm

— Avoid low-hanging and fallen power lines, debris and other
road hazards. Do not drive around sight-seeing.

— After a hurricane, you may find it difficult to navigate in
the newly changed landscape. Pay attention to any post-storm
changes, such as missing signs or broken traffic signal
lights. If traffic lights are not working, treat the
intersection as a four-way stop. Do not, under any
circumstances, assume that cross traffic will stop at the
intersection.

— Call your insurance company as soon as possible to report a
claim.