“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.”

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


No matter how much we try to control our lives, we can’t control the weather. Despite weather forecasts, we can’t expect the unexpected.  Mother Nature might bring a dusting of snow in July or a heavy torrential downpour with flash floods and flying cows.

It’s important to know the possible dangers when driving in different inclement conditions.

Sudden thunderstorms are a common occurrence in the summertime due to changing temperatures and pressures in the atmosphere. Prepare yourself this summer by understanding the dangers of driving in thunderstorms and how to protect yourself—and your insurance rates—from these disasters.

What Are The Driving Dangers Of Thunderstorms?

1. Low visibility

Rain, especially heavy rain, can act like a wall against your windshield. Paired with grey skies, ominous clouds, and heavy winds, your visibility drastically decreases during a thunderstorm.

2. Low traction

Water makes the roads slicker, which means your tires are not able to grip the ground properly. Thus, it takes longer to brake and the driver has less control of the vehicle. The road is most slippery during the first few minutes of a storm, because the water hasn’t yet started seeping into the ground.

If you begin to hydroplane during a rainstorm, slowly let off the accelerator and do not brake; steer with the spin and wait for your car to realign. Do not fight against the hydroplane. 

3. Puddles and floods

During rain, pools of water are likely to form in holes and at the bottom of hills. These holes can be deceiving and cause your car to get stuck or even flip. Even a small pothole filled with water can do serious damage to your car. Flash flooding is also common on some roads during heavy thunderstorms.

4. Lightning

Meteorologists say that the safest place to wait out a storm is a car, because the rubber tires don’t conduct electricity well. However, there are other dangers of lightning beyond just a direct hit. If lightning strikes close to you, it can knock down trees or power lines, and it can even start a fire. It can also cause temporary blindness, which is highly dangerous while operating a vehicle.

5. Hail

Hail is a pellet of frozen rain that can damage your car, windshield, and windows. This is not only costly, but it also influences your ability to drive safely.

6. Wind

Strong winds can jerk your car or cause hydroplaning on slick surfaces, eliminating your control of the vehicle entirely. Winds can also carry flying objects, like branches and debris, which can damage your car and send your automobile spinning out of control.

7. Other Drivers

Even if you are a safe driver in bad conditions, there are inevitably other drivers who aren’t taking the same precautions that you are. Be aware of cars that are speeding, tailgating, and changing lanes in inclement weather, as they are more likely to spin out of control and potentially hit your car.

What Do Thunderstorms Mean For Insurance?

If you have some sort of incident in the rain, not only is your safety at risk, but you’re then also faced with the cost of damages. If you don’t have the right auto insurance, you could end up with hefty fees and lawsuits that drastically influence your savings and assets—all because of a rainstorm.

For example, you are driving in the rain, you hydroplane out of control, and you crash into a tree. Your collision insurance would help cover the damages to your vehicle, and your personal injury protection would help cover your medical costs and associated services. These plans would also cover your expenses if another driver hits you (you could later sue that driver for additional costs).

Now, say you hydroplane out of control and hit another vehicle. Your property damage liability would cover the damage to the other person’s car, while your bodily injury liability coverage could help cover the costs associated with that person’s medical expenses if they were injured.

If lightning hits a nearby power line pole that then falls on your car, or if you car is hit with a flying tree branch, then your comprehensive coverage would help pay for damages to your automobile.

In general, a lot can go wrong in a thunderstorm—and there are different types of auto coverage that protect these varied incidents. It’s important to be fully covered to protect from the unpredictable.

What Precautions Should You Take? 

1. Stay inside. If you know a thunderstorm is coming, try to avoid driving in the rain.

2. Park. If you’re caught in a storm, it’s often a smart choice to pull into the nearest parking lot to wait it out. Turn on your hazards and put on your emergency brakes to ride out the storm. 

3. Be careful where you park. Try not to stop on the shoulder of the road, unless it’s a wide road and it would be unsafe for you to find the nearest lot. If you have to park on the shoulder, put on your emergency blinkers so that other cars can see you. Also, don’t park under power lines or trees that could fall on your car. Do not park at the bottom of a hill or slope, where flooding is most common.

4. Get in the back seat if there’s hail. If it’s hailing, you will want to park nearby and lie down on the floor in the back seat. This will best protect you from glass breaking into your car from large hail pieces.

5. Drive slowly. If it’s not a possibility to park, always drive cautiously. It’s a good rule of thumb to drive at least 10mph below the speed limit in rain conditions. This helps you keep control your car and maintain traction on the road.

6. Don’t tailgate. The time it takes to brake doubles in the rain, so you should leave double the room between you and the car in front of you. If someone is tailgating behind you, pull over to let them pass so you don’t get rear-ended.

7. Turn on your lights. Visibility is crucial in rain, so turn on your headlights so other cars can see you. You may not want to turn on your high beams, though, which can reduce visibility in foggy or grey conditions.

8. Keep your windows up and doors closed. This will protect from falling objects as well as help maintain control of the car when there’s wind.

9. Turn off cruise control. Some people make the mistake of using cruise control in the rain as a way to “stay steady.” But cruise control can actually cause you to hydroplane, and then you don’t have full control of your car in order to straighten out again.  

10. Carry a disaster supplies kit in your trunk or glove box. You should always have with you: protein-packed snacks, water, first aid, flashlight, emergency contacts, extra prescriptions, and insurance or health documents.

11. Relax and be patient. It’s challenging to stay calm in a storm because your body naturally senses danger, so your adrenaline starts to rush. But it’s important to relax, drive cautiously, and be patient with your schedule and with other drivers.

Remember, no matter where you need to be or how late you’re running, it’s not worth risking your life or someone else’s. You can’t always predict the dangers that a storm will bring, but the right knowledge, precautions, and insurance can help you properly prepare for the unknown.