Thousands of vehicles were flooded after unprecedented amounts of rain lashed Ida on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Cars were stuffed into garages, abandoned on the sides of highways, or picked up from driveways by raging water.
If your car was one of the casualties, there are steps you’ll need to take to keep your car running after a flood or make an insurance claim.
Does car insurance cover flood damage?
According to ConsumerReports.org, what happens next depends on the damage and type of car insurance you have, but people should live in the worst-case scenario and expect their cars to be total.
Consumer Reports states that flood damage is covered if you have comprehensive coverage, which is only about a third of people.
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“If a person has purchased comprehensive coverage (before the storm, of course), they should be covered for storm damage — including flooded cars,” said AAA spokeswoman Ellen Edmonds.
Insurance Information Institute vice president Loretta L. “Car owners should file a claim as soon as possible, especially with the potential for mold to develop,” Vorters said. “Pictures can be helpful to show the extent of the damage. There can be physical damage from tree lines as well as floods. In addition many of the damages can be caused by lightning that won’t be visible in a photo or video.”
How to check flood damage
Allstate Insurance spokesman Justin Herndon urges owners to be careful when they eventually reconnect with their vehicles. When inspecting your flood-damaged vehicle, Herndon suggests you:
- Survey the potential damage to the car and note how high the water rises in your car.
- Do not try to start your car when you return. If there is water in the engine it will cause more damage.
- Start drying your vehicle as soon as possible, and contact a towing service to get it back to the elevated position.
“Drying a car full of salt water quickly is especially important, because saltwater is very corrosive,” Herndon said.
How do I file a claim if my car is flooded?
To file a claim, contact the agent or company that sold you the insurance policy. Many insurers are already or soon setting up disaster response stations in some damaged areas.
If you can do it safely, document your property damage with photos and videos as soon as possible, and provide this information to your insurance adjuster.
Consumer Reports urges owners to obtain the claim number and the adjuster’s name and phone number when filing a report.
“Find out when you can expect to be contacted. Ask for a payout estimate, and ask how you can limit your out-of-pocket expenses. If you’ll need to rent a car, do so Ask for details about reimbursement before committing.”
How do I know if I am buying a car that was damaged by a flood?
This huge loss of vehicles is happening at a time when the stock of cars is very less due to shortage of pandemic and high demand. The prices of used cars are skyrocketing. This can make it tempting for unscrupulous dealers to pass on flood-damaged cars.
According to Consumer Affairs of New Jersey, it is an unlawful advertising practice for New Jersey dealerships to fail to disclose in their advertisements that a motor vehicle has been previously damaged when such damage exceeds $1,000. is and is known or should be known by the dealer.
Pennsylvania law requires motor vehicle dealers to disclose if the vehicle has suffered flood damage.
Here are some tips from the state agency on how to find out if a car is damaged in a flood:
- Inspect the entire interior of the vehicle for any watermarks or grit.
- Look for evidence on upholstery and carpet. Check under the floor mat. Feel around for damp spots, especially in seat padding, which take longer to dry.
- Look for rust on screws, seat springs and other metal areas where water would not normally be expected to infiltrate.
- Check in trunk for water spots. If your spare tire is in the trunk, check for traces of rust on the rim under it, as well as the metal parts that hold the tire in place.
- Be wary of any moldy or musty odors, as well as strong odors from shampoos, air fresheners or sanitizers.
- Test all lights, gauges and electronic systems.
- Lift the hood and inspect the engine compartment for dirt, sand or residue.
- Look for fog or condensation in the headlights, taillights, and instrument panel.
- Always test-drive the car as part of your inspection. Keep windows up to make it easier to detect suspicious odors.