Automotive News — September 5, 2011 – 12:01 am ET
Paragon Honda was physically unscathed by Hurricane Irene, but the New York City dealership’s sales took a wallop before the storm arrived.
“There was so much hype, we lost [sales] a couple of days before, a couple of days during and a day after,” says Brian Benstock, general manager of the dealership in the borough of Queens.
“And here’s something I’d never seen before: Insurance companies were refusing to write automobile policies. They didn’t want to insure a car that in two days could be the victim of a fallen tree,” he says.
That’s standard practice, says the insurance industry. Insurance companies generally will not write new policies with comprehensive or collision coverage, or change existing customers’ comprehensive/collision coverage limits, during a tropical storm or hurricane warning or watch issued by the National Hurricane Center.
Mike Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute, an industry organization, calls the practice a “prudent business decision.”
But for Benstock and other dealers, it made an already tough sales environment even tougher. He sold about 20 new and used vehicles the Friday and Saturday prior to the storm’s arrival on Sunday, Aug. 28.
He adds: “Ordinarily we’d be well over 100 cars for the weekend.”
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