We’ve already seen May floods devastate large parts of Texas, resulting in an estimated $45 million in property damage. That may have been just a precursor of things to come. After a record wet spring across the plains states, the summer forecast is equally soggy. According to Weather.com, El Nino conditions portend wetter-than-average weather in the southern and central Plains, Intermountain West, the Lower Mississippi Valley into Alabama, southern Georgia and much of Florida. Before the next deluge, take a little time out to review your car insurance.
Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, but you may be surprised to learn that your car insurance might, if you have the right kind of policy. Your basic coverage, the level your state requires you to carry, won’t cut it. You may want to supplement that with Comprehensive insurance.
What is Comprehensive Car Insurance?
Comprehensive car insurance covers any damage to your vehicle that results from something other than a collision. That includes theft, vandalism and flood damage. Whether or not you need it will depend. You’ll need to weigh the cost of the coverage and deductible against the replacement value of your vehicle. In many cases, insurance companies will opt to total a flood-damaged car rather than repair it, especially if it’s an older vehicle. You should also be aware that insurance companies restrict the purchase of comprehensive coverage under certain conditions, such as a pending hurricane. Don’t wait till an approaching storm is announced or you may be out of luck. You can shop here for comprehensive car insurance online and get competitive quotes to decide if this coverage is right for you.
What to Do If Your Car is Flood-Damaged
Once you buy comprehensive car insurance, here’s what to do if your car is damaged in a flood.
- Locate your vehicle. If the car isn’t where you left it, it may have been towed. Your local police department is probably the best source to help you find it.
- Call your insurance company or agent. In the case of wide-spread damage, understand that they may be swamped with claims, so be patient.
- Do not start your car. Doing so could cause further damage.
- Wait for the adjuster. However, if your car is blocking traffic, you may need to have it towed, ideally to your insurance company’s preferred body shop.
- Document the flood damage. Take photos. If it’s safe to do so, get a shot that includes your license plate.
- Do not approach a submerged vehicle. There may be downed power lines, strong water currents or dangerous debris.
- Prevent further damage. Again, only if it’s safe to approach the car, close any open windows and cover any that are broken with plastic and duct tape. Hang on to any receipts for anything materials you buy. They may be reimbursable.
- Don’t attempt to dry your vehicle yourself. Contact a professional service. Again, save the receipts.
Even if your car wasn’t submerged, it may still be unsafe to drive or damaged beyond repair. Any significant amount of flood water in the engine compartment or cabin of your car probably ruined the electronic components. Be prepared to have it totaled.