Flood Damage and Car Insurance
Unfortunately, flood damage can occur by a variety of different events. A persistent, heavy rain could result in flash flooding, causing your vehicle to be swept away by rapidly rising flood water. Natural disasters such as tropical storms, nor'easters, and hurricanes might also flood your car. Regardless of the cause, it's important to understand how your car insurance works after your vehicle incurs flood damage.
Comprehensive Auto Coverage
The first step in determining if you're covered for repairs or replacement of your flood-damaged car is checking your auto insurance policy. Almost every state requires that you have liability coverage, but this coverage will not pay for flood damage. On the other hand, purchasing comprehensive auto coverage does pay for flood damage. Because of the unpredictability of life and Mother Nature, a majority of drivers have comprehensive auto insurance on their policies.
The details of your coverage may change from year to year, so it's important to understand the fine print. First, check the deductible in your car insurance policy's comprehensive section. The higher your deductible, the less you'll pay in monthly premiums. If you live in a relatively dryer climate, having a higher deductible for comprehensive coverage might make sense since there's a smaller chance of having to pay it out.
Should You File a Claim?
If the flood damage to your vehicle is less than or equal to your deductible, it may not be in your best interests to file a claim. Filing multiple comprehensive car insurance loss claims over a short period of time could result in higher premiums. Even more, your insurance provider could choose to drop you if you file too many claims.
If your car has a low value and you have a high deductible, you should think twice about filing a car insurance claim for flood damage. You might consider getting an estimate from your mechanic instead; this could save you money in the long run. In the end, if you choose to file a claim with your insurance company, you should do so as quickly as possible. Many insurance companies have strict deadlines about how soon you must report any type of vehicular damage, including water damage from flooding.
Reporting flood damage to your auto insurance agent starts the process of reimbursement. The claims process can take a while, especially if the flooding was widespread or caused by a major catastrophe. For example, a hurricane could cause hundreds or even thousands of cars to be damaged by flood waters, and there could be a backlog of claims. Submitting your claim as quickly as possible could mean a shorter wait for your payout.
Repair or Replace a Flood-Damaged Vehicle
While it's possible for flooding to damage your car to the point that it is a total loss, you might be able to reduce the amount of damage by getting your car dried out as quickly as possible after a flood. This task (and any other repair work after a flood) should be left to a mechanic. An adjuster from your car insurance provider may visit the shop or have the mechanic make a report of the damage. Always keep in mind, water damage could lead to future problems with your vehicle, even after it's been fully dried and repaired.
If the flood waters got inside your car, most of the interior parts are likely to be destroyed. If the flood caused your vehicle to float or if the water made its way into the engine, your car might be declared a total loss. If the car is declared to be a total loss, your insurance company will need to replace it with a vehicle of the same make, model, and condition as yours before the flood damage. Alternatively, your insurance company might elect to pay you a cash settlement for the vehicle's pre-loss value.
Find some peace of mind and learn about the risk for flooding where you live and work. If you reside in a place at risk for storm surges or flooding from hurricanes or rivers, you'll want comprehensive coverage on your insurance policy. If you think flood damage is possible, avoid driving in areas where water is collecting and flowing on the road. If possible, try to seal your garage to prevent water from flooding in. Regardless of where you need to be and the coverage you have, make the safest decisions possible in times where flood damage may occur.