Making A Claim For Flood Damage
Make a claim through our online form make sure you have your policy number or vehicle registration number to hand.A flooded vehicle is not an automatic write-off it will depend on whether or not water got into the engine, and how much. If the engine is unaffected, the car may be able to simply dry out leaving no lasting damage.
How Do I File A Claim After A Flood
As with any claim, it is important to notify your car insurer as soon as you become aware of flood damage. You dont need to have all of the details gathered or even understand the extent of damage to provide this initial notice. You can make this initial report by calling your insurance representative or, in many cases, online or with an app. You will be given a claim number.
As soon as possible, gather all information that will document the vehicle damage. This will include photos and a timeline of the flooding that caused the damage. Submit this material to your auto insurer as it is gathered.
At some point, an adjuster will be sent to assess the damage to the vehicle and based upon this appraisal and your input an offer will be made by the insurer. It is always wise to obtain your own assessment of the damage and cost of repair from your own automobile mechanic. Remember that you are under no obligation to accept the first insurance offer and you should feel comfortable making a counter proposal based upon your own assessment.
Rental Car Reimbursement Coverage
Storms can impact more than just your car and your neighborhood. As vehicles line up for repairs in the aftermath of a catastrophic weather event, auto/body shops can be booked for days before theyll have time to get around to repairing your car. Our rental car reimbursement coverage will help you pay for the expenses of renting a car while your car is in the shop. Youll also be covered for expenses like ride sharing services, taxis and other forms of public transportation.
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How To File A Car Insurance Claim After A Flood
Filing a claim for flood damage is the same as filing a claim for any other type of vehicle damage. You can either call up your company’s claim center or you can file a claim online if the company allows it. We recommend you do this as soon as possible though for two reasons. The longer you wait, the more damage the water can be inflicting on your vehicle. Second, major floods tend to slow insurance companies from dealing with every claim as fast as they normally would. If there was a major flood in your area, it is likely there are other drivers filing similar claims, and the insurance companies only have a finite amount of claims adjusters to evaluate each case. The sooner you file the claim, however, the more likely you will be one of the first cases processed.
In the meantime, we recommend you take as many photos or videos of your car from different angles to record the flood damage and dry out the car as much as you can until your auto insurer can send over a claims adjuster. Here’s what State Farm advises car owners to do to minimize the damage:
- Do not start your car, as potential water damage in your engine will make it worse
- Check with a mechanic whether the oil, transmission fluid and lube needs to be drained
- Get a towing service to move your car to higher ground, or wait until the water recedes
- Remove all water: vacuum or mop up the remaining water pooled in your car, remove seats and cushions if possible, use fans and dehumidifiers
Collision Coverage Packaged With Comprehensive Coverage
If youve got comprehensive coverage theres a good chance you have collision coverage as well. These two types of car insurance are often packaged together by auto insurance companies, and work together to cover repairs to your car. They supplement your liability coverage, which is required in nearly all states to drive legally, and only covers injuries you cause to others and damage you do to their property.
Collision insurance pays for damage to your car if your car hits an object or another car, regardless of who caused the accident. The average cost for collision insurance is about $378 per year, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
If you finance or lease your car, your auto lender or leasing company likely requires that you have both comprehensive and collision insurance. When you pay off the auto loan, you can decide if you want to continue carrying these coverage or if its time to drop comprehensive and collision coverage.
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Assess The Depth Of The Water
It is advisable to not attempt driving through standing water that is six inches deep, or moving water that is four inches deep. This is because the strength of the water can sweep the car away into deeper floodwater. Additionally, if water gets into the engine of your car, your car may break down in the middle of the flooded roads.
How To File An Insurance Claim For A Flooded Car
After your cars been damaged by a flood, youll want to file a flooded car claim as soon as you can.
Filing a claim is easy with American Family Insurance. One of the best ways to report a claim is to log into My Account or use the MyAmFam app. And by initiating your claim with one of these options, youll also experience additional benefits including:
- Filing anywhere, any time
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How To Get A Copy Of The Title
If your car was badly damaged and your title was in the car, you may have lost its proof of ownership. If its missing or has been destroyed, youll need to apply for a duplicate title through your states DMV or equivalent agency. See below for the contact, fees, and notary information for each state.
Take A Different Route
If you are aware that certain routes on your daily commute usually get flooded during monsoon, it is best to always check for an alternative way that gets you to your destination. Doing so will not only keep you safe from being stranded on water-logged streets but also prevent your car from flood damage. You can use GPS-enabled maps to help you navigate and find alternate routes.
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How Do You Protect Your Car Against Heavy Rains
You can protect your car against heavy rains in the following ways:
Place your car in a shed where the rainwater cannot reach it
If you do not have a shed to place your car, make sure you put up a cover over your car to stop the water from leaking into the car through windows and other gaps
Keep your battery disconnected
How To File A Typical Claim
- Contact the agent or company that sold you the insurance policy to file a claim. Many insurers have already or soon will be setting up disaster response stations in some of the damaged areas. Check to see whether your company has a response team near you.
- Document your property damage with photos and video as soon as possible, if you can do it safely, and provide this information to your insurance adjuster.
- Documenting with video or photo is important because each claim presents its own unique criteria, says Justin Herndon, a spokesperson for Allstate Insurance. Such factors may include, but not limited to, the extent of damage, type of damage, age of a vehicle, make/model of a vehicle, and mileage driven to date on the vehicle in question.
- Consumer Reports urges owners to get a claim number and the name and phone number of the adjuster 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 youll need to rent a car, ask for details about reimbursement before you do so.
How To Protect Your Car From Flooding
Three actions can protect your car from getting flooded in the first place:
How Do I Know If I’m Buying A Car That Was Flood
This large loss of vehicles is coming at a time when car inventory is very low as a result of pandemic shortages, and demand high. Prices for used cars have skyrocketed. That could make it tempting for unscrupulous dealers to pass off flood-damaged cars.
Pennsylvania law requires motor vehicle dealers to disclose if a vehicle incurred flood damage.
Here are some tips from the state agency on how to spot if a car has been damaged in a flood:
- Inspect the full interior of the vehicle for any watermarks or grit.
- Look for evidence on the upholstery and the carpet. Check under the floor mats. Feel around for damp spots, especially in the seat padding, which takes longer to dry.
- Search for rust on screws, seat springs and other metal areas where water would not normally be expected to intrude.
- Check in the trunk for water stains. If your spare tire is in the trunk, check underneath it for signs of rust on the rim as well as the metal parts that hold the tire in place.
- Be alert to any mold or musty odors as well as strong smells of shampooing, 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 the windows up to make it easier to detect suspicious odors.
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How To Protect Your Car From Flood Damage
- Move your car to higher ground if you live in an area at risk of flooding and theres a flood warning
- Never attempt to drive through flood water – you wont be able to see anything below the waterline and your engine could stall, leaving you stranded
- Turbo-charged and diesel engines are the most vulnerable to flood damage so take extra care with these types of cars
What To Do If Your Car Gets Flooded
If you suspect your car has been damaged by a flood or just some sort of water in general, you need to take the proper steps to ensure you get proper compensation for the damage and that the damage is fixed.
Unfortunately, water damage to your cars engine will total out the vehicle most of the time. But water damage to the floorboards or other aesthetic structures on your vehicle will likely just result in expensive repairs and are also covered by auto insurance. Heres what you should do:
1. Survey the damage
While it may be impossible for you to survey the flood damage to your vehicle as good as a mechanic, its imperative that you survey the water damage as soon as possible. Check the oil dipstick to see if water droplets have seeped into your engine, inspect the floorboards and seats for visible water damage and, whatever you do, dont start the engine.
Starting your vehicles engine after its sustained water damage could cause the water to make its way deeper into the engine and damage it beyond repair, which could total the vehicle.
2. File an auto insurance claim
Step number two involves filing an auto insurance claim with your insurer. Although the claim may be pretty vague, unless youre a professional mechanic who can assess the damage right away, this gets the converge process started and gets you back on track to start driving again soon.
3. Take it to a qualified mechanic
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Be Prepared For Your Car To Be Totaled
You may have a strong emotional connection to your car, but if it has been in a flood, it might be too expensive to repair. That’s because when water enters your engines air intake, it can lead to all sorts of problems, says John Ibbotson, chief mechanic for Consumer Reports.
On most cars, the intake is at the front of the car, and it brings in fresh air to the engine as you drive.
The water can enter this intake and fill your engine cylinders, which can stall the motor or leave the motor unable to turn over and start. In addition, there is the chance of computer modules failing from getting wet and long-term electrical problems down the road, Ibbotson says.
“Car owners should file a claim as soon as possible, particularly with the possibility of mold developing,” says Worters. “Pictures can be helpful to show the extent of the damage . Also a lot of the damage can be electrical that wont show up in a photo or video.”
Traditionally, an insurance adjuster would visit the vehicle to take photos, according to Edmonds, but she says that many claims are being adjusted virtually, so the insurance company may ask the insured to join in a Zoom or FaceTime call so that the adjuster can see the damage remotely. This would be especially helpful to speed up the process in the aftermath of a natural disaster, when adjusters are busy and travel is difficult.
Does Car Insurance Cover Gaps
In the worst-case water damage scenario, your car is totaled, meaning that the repairs cost more than your cars actual market value . In that case, comprehensive coverage would reimburse you for the AMV so you can purchase a new car.
However, the AMV will be lower than what you paid for the car originally, as its value depreciates as soon as you leave the lot. To make sure you get back what you originally paid for the car, youll need . Without it, youll receive only the AMV, even if you have comprehensive coverage.
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Other Things To Remember
Comprehensive coverage typically doesn’t cover water damage to equipment that’s not permanently installed in your car, such as removable sound equipment or removable navigation systems.
Comprehensive coverage has a deductible, which is the amount you pay out of pocket toward a covered claim. Also, comprehensive coverage has a limit, which is the maximum amount your policy will pay for a covered claim. If your vehicle is totaled by water damage, comprehensive coverage helps pay to replace your vehicle, up to its depreciated value .
Water damage can be frustrating for any car owner, but having comprehensive coverage may help reimburse you if your vehicle is damaged by hail or flooding. Your insurance provider can help you understand your coverage and help you find the policy that’s right for you.
If You Don’t Know Where Your Car Is
For starters, keep yourself safe and dont risk making an automobile claim something much more serious. You should not take any actions that would put you in danger, Worters says. Tell your insurer the last location of the vehicle and ask for their recommended next steps. In many situations with flooded cars, the insurer will send a tow truck to retrieve it as a submerged vehicle that may not start and could be dangerous to drive, particularly if water got into the electrical components.
If you can’t find your car, check with the police and any local agencies assisting with cleaning up after a flood. Those groups may have had flood-damaged vehicles towed to an impound lot or storage facility. They should be able to inform you where all of the towed vehicles are being stored.
Worters points out that new technology being used during natural disasters, such as drones, can expedite the process.
She says, “If you cant get to your vehicle, ask your insurer if they are using drones, and perhaps they will be able to take an aerial picture of its location as initial documentation of the loss.
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Check For Hidden Damage
When it’s time for your car to go to the shop, determine whether or not there is damage that can’t be seen with the naked eye. “Have good communication with the body shops and mechanic, so you can find out how thorough they’re inspecting it, how much damage there is. Make sure you’re asking.” This step is key, because it could make a difference on whether the car will be repaired or declared a total loss.
Beware Of Flooded Cars For Sale
Cars damaged by floodwaters often make their way on the market. According to Carfax, 446,836 flood-damaged cars were on U.S. roads in 2020.
If an insurance company totals a vehicle after a flood damage claim, it will issue a salvage title. That means the car cant be driven until its repaired, passes an inspection and gets retitled. The new title will indicate that the vehicle had significant damage and has been rebuilt.
Salvage title cars are usually sold at auctions to junkyards for parts or to dealers who will rebuild them, but can be sold to private buyers if the title shows theres been flood damage.
State regulations and laws regarding titles differ, with some states more lenient than others in their definition of salvage-titled cars. That means sometimes flood-damaged cars are retitled over the course of several sales, often across state lines, and wind up with a title that doesnt disclose the damage.
Flooded cars are also cleaned up and sold on the private market by unscrupulous owners who dont tell unsuspecting buyers about the damage.
Vehicles with flood damage can rot from the inside, sometimes gradually, and have mechanical, electrical and safety systems that could fail at any time, so naturally you want to avoid buying one. That means steering clear of cars with salvage or rebuilt titles.
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