As one of the most common natural disasters in the U.S. floods regularly cause property damage worth billions every year. One of the valuable items a flood may damage is your vehicle. Whether you live in a high-risk, low-risk, or moderate-risk flood area, it’s essential to prepare yourself to avoid damages that could impact your financial health. This article will cover what you need to know about car insurance and flood damage.
Does Your Car Insurance Cover Flood Damage?
If you have comprehensive coverage in your auto insurance policy, you’re eligible for protection against flood damage. Comprehensive coverage will pay for repairs or replace your vehicle, minus the deductible, if it’s damaged by floods. It’s essential to understand that the coverage may not pay if the damage was not accidental, the vehicle had mechanical issues before the flood, or damage occurred after leaving a window open.
When Does Auto Insurance Cover Flooding?
If your local government announces a major weather event like a storm or hurricane, insurers may put restrictions to bar new policy buyers from purchasing flood-related policies and coverages. This is to limit the exposure to the costly claims payouts that build up if the flood occurs. Some may place restrictions that prevent you from filing a claim if you buy the coverage too late. Therefore, it’s critical to check your policy and increase limits on your comprehensive coverage well before a flooding event is imminent. Comprehensive coverage can cover damage to your vehicle if:
- It rains and the water level rises slightly above the floor of the car
- The flood water reached the dashboard and damaged a few parts
- The storm broke your car windows and wet the interior of your car
It’s critical to understand that some insurance companies may not cover things that are not permanently installed in your cars, such as removable GPS systems or radios.
Things To Do if Floods Damage Your Car
If you have comprehensive auto coverage, here are a few things you can do to facilitate your claim process and speed up compensation.
- Do not attempt to drive the car. This will avoid making any damage to the engine worse. If the water level is too high, wait until it recedes.
- Call your insurance company immediately. If your area has had a major flooding event, other drivers will probably be filing similar claims. Any delay in filing your claim will turn into long delays throughout the claim process.
- Take as many pictures and videos as possible. Your insurance company will need proof of the incident with details such as the water level. The highest water level shows the most affected parts of the car.
- Take steps to keep the vehicle dry. Call a technician to check the damaged parts. They will let you know if the oil, transmission fluid, and lubrication need draining. You can also get a towing service to move the car out of the water and mop up the water in the vehicle. Remove all removable items and dry them. Keep receipts and records of everything you do. You will need them during the compensation process.
- Once the adjuster comes to inspect the damage, make sure they check every component. It’s wiser to obtain your assessment of the damage and cost of repair from your mechanic. You’re not obligated to accept your insurer’s first offer, and you should feel comfortable sharing your own estimates.
Suppose your car gets damaged by floods and you don’t have comprehensive coverage. In that case, your only option may be assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which comes in the form of a low-cost loan.
Will Your Auto Insurance Rates Go Up if You File a Flood-Related Claim?
Your insurance costs should not increase because of a comprehensive claim. However, there are exceptions. For instance, if this is your third claim in a year, your rates will probably go up due to the high number of claims, but not due to a specific claim.
Which Other Forms of Coverage Can Help Protect Your Vehicle from Flood Damage?
Your comprehensive insurance may not always be adequate to cover flood damage, especially during major flood events. That’s why you should consider adding other coverages to boost your flood coverage. These include:
Towing insurance can cover the towing costs if your vehicle is stuck in a flooded area. It also covers the cost of moving your car from the water to the repair shop.
Flood insurance covers damage to your home and personal belongings. While it may not cover your vehicle, the policy can cover damaged personal items in your car, such as laptops, gym equipment, and other valuables if the flood event took place in your home.
This policy can help pay for a rental car that you can drive temporarily if your car gets damaged by floods.
If your vehicle is unsalvageable due to flood damage, the amount you receive from the insurance company may not be enough to offset your lender. Gap insurance can help pay the remaining amount. You should seriously consider this policy if you bought your car with a loan and it’s depreciating quickly.
FAQs About Flood Damage
How Do I Tell If My Car Has Flood Damage?
If you suspect that a flood has damaged your car, it’s essential to call a mechanic immediately to conduct a thorough inspection. Meanwhile, check for water stains, musty smells, mud behind wire harnesses, and rusty undercarriage.
Is It Worth Repairing a Flooded Car?
Sometimes. However, it’s important to be sure that the damage wasn’t severe enough to cause long-term damage like rust. For instance, ensure that no water has entered the engine, which will ruin it gradually.
What Is the Most Effective Way to Prevent Flood-related Damage?
If you receive a flood warning in your area, park your vehicle at as high an elevation as possible. If it gets flooded, act quickly by removing as much water as possible. Use any possible means to remove the water and repair the vehicle.
How Much Will FEMA Pay for Flood Damage on a Car?
The monetary benefits from FEMA vary from one individual to another as everyone has different needs. Note that these benefits may not always be available for all applicants. That’s why it’s advisable to get proper insurance for financial safety.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.