While Florida dealership showrooms appear to have sustained limited damage from Hurricane Ian, there’s grave concern about dealership employees, their families and their homes, according to the state dealer association and a dealer whose Chevrolet store is located outside one of the hardest-hit areas.
“We got spared,” Tom Castriota, owner of Castriota Chevrolet in Hudson, FL, north of Tampa, tells Wards. “But we definitely had employees who were affected."
More than 300,000 customers were still without power as of midday Oct. 5, authorities said.
Ted Smith, president of the Tallahassee-based Florida Automobile Dealers Assn., provides a similar report. “Our stores have their heads down – cleaning up water damage, cleaning the premises of debris and finding a safe way to reopen, even though many of them are without electricity,” he says.
“I have tried to call into the impact zones to determine the status of employees. Many areas are still unreachable. For the most part there has not been huge physical destruction at our stores, but the losses to employee families will be huge.”
The state association operates the Florida Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation, (https://www.flada.org/fadcf/) and the National Automobile Dealers Assn. has the NADA Foundation (https://www.NADAFoundation.org). Both provide relief funds to assist employees, Smith says.
“The stores themselves have insurance protection, but we know that some families are devastated, so we intervene to help them with their most immediate and emergency needs–housing, food and transportation,” he says.
Meanwhile, some OEMs and auto lenders inform dealers of special incentives for customers looking to replace cars and trucks lost to flooding and other hurricane-related damage.
Southeast Toyota Distributors, the independent distributor for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, tells dealers of a $1,000 “Storm Relief Customer Support” incentive for the replacement of vehicles with verifiable insurance claims related to the hurricane. The damaged vehicles can be from any manufacturer, not just Toyota or Lexus, the company says.
Captive finance company Toyota Financial Services, which also includes Lexus Financial Services, also announces several payment relief options, such as loan extensions and deferred lease payments, redirecting billing statements and arranging phone or online payments.
Ford Credit and Lincoln Automotive Financial Services say existing customers affected by the hurricane may be able to defer up to two payments. For more information, customers can go to FordCredit.com or LincolnAFS.com, or call 800-723-4016.
Ford spokeswoman Rhonda Bambrick says in an Oct. 5, email, "Our dealers are up and running, with little impact to their inventory."