Does My Auto Insurance Cover Flood Damage?

Sep 12, 2021 | Personal Insurance

Flood is one of the most common perils in the U.S. Each year the number of drivers filing claims due to flood damage tremendously increases. And according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association, all states are prone to experiencing floods, even the ones with naturally dry weather. This only means that having auto insurance flood coverage is a must. 

When does auto insurance cover flooding?

Since comprehensive auto insurance that covers floods is not always mandatory in car insurance, you need to add a comprehensive policy first for you to get the coverage. Generally, this will kick after you pay for the deductibles for the cost of the repairs. Or made reimbursement for the actual cash value of the car if the adjuster calculated that your car is totaled. However, if your car’s worth is more than $3,000 or under 10 years old, we recommend that you add this coverage. The cost of your auto insurance will go up but at least you are more secure that your car will be part of the coverage if anything happens like a flood, broken windshield due to an accident, and as well as damage caused by vandalism.

How much is comprehensive coverage?

According to the latest data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average cost of comprehensive coverage per year is $190. This additional charge may seem too much to some but not having this can cost you more. If your vehicle is impaired, partially or fully submerged in flood and you are not covered, imagine the amount that you need to pay to fix it or worse, for buying a new car. Hence, having comprehensive insurance added to your auto policy is important to secure your car repairs or replacement. 

What Does Comprehensive Auto Insurance Cover?

Generally, comprehensive insurance covers the damage to your car due to unforeseen events or peril. These types of events should not include collisions with objects or with another vehicle.    Comprehensive insurance covers the damage to your car such as:

  1. Flood
  2. Fire
  3. Theft
  4. Vandalism
  5. Natural disasters like tornados and hurricane
  6. Falling objects
  7. Any damage caused by animals

Now here are the things that are not part of the coverage:

  1. Damage to your car caused by collision with other vehicles.
  2. Damage to another driver’s car caused by the collision.
  3. You and your passengers’ medical expenses due to the accident.

Natural disasters like storms and tornadoes are typically not part of the coverage. During these perils, many types of objects can smash or fly onto your car due to extreme wind. Any harm to your car due to these incidents will not be part of the comprehensive auto policy.  So let’s say during the storm lightning hit a tree and fell on your car’s roof. The impairment due to the damage to the tree is part of the coverage. 

How Much Damage Do Floods Actually Inflict?

Damage due to a flood is a serious problem that can lead to your car being totaled if worse comes to worst. And the severity of the water damage depends on how much water got into your car. Now the question is, how much damage does a flood can do to your auto?

Water reached the floor of your car

If you got lucky and the flood just reached the flooring of your car, then the impairment might be minor. You can just check if the car is still working fine, be mindful of any leakage or smoke. And to make sure, it’s better to have your wheels checked at a shop. 

Waterfloods that reached higher than the floor-level

When the waterflood reaches higher than the floor of your car there is a bigger chance that your engine will destroy. If this happens, your best option is to check your car’s engine by using the oil dipstick to check for any water droplets. Check if the reading is too high and you see water on the oil, then it means that the water has already reached the engine and your engine cylinders are already possibly broken. If this is the case, the harm done to your wheels will be much more extreme and the cost to repair them will be higher than the actual cash value. If the insurer calculated that they will just reimburse you for it, then they will pay you for the value of your car. 

However, water damage due to negligence is not part of the coverage. For example, you left the windows open that causes the water from a normal rain to go inside your car and cause damage, this type of damage will not be part of the coverage.

What Should I Do With My Car After a Flood?

After the flood subsides, now you need to deal with the harm done to your car. Now, this part will be messy and stressful. But, you need to act immediately to avoid further damage. Here is the list of the things that you need to do:

  • Call a towing service to bring your car to higher ground for safety.
  • Don’t try to start your car. There’s a big chance that a flooded car’s engine has been damaged already, and starting it will just cause more harm to it. 
  • We also recommend that you take as many photos and videos as possible at each angle of your car, inside and outside to clearly show what the damages look like. This will back up your claim and will serve as good evidence of what happened.
  • Remove seat covers and cushions
  • Use a vacuum to remove the remaining water inside your car floor and seats. 
  • Use all the necessary tools like towels, fans, sponge, and humidifier to help dry all the wet surfaces of the car. 
  • You can also call a mechanic to help you check the transmission fluid, oil, and lube if they are destroyed and need to be drained.

Once you have already finished drying your car as much as you can. File a claim to your auto insurance so they can check your car right away. 

How to file a car insurance claim after a flood

Filing flood damage to your insurer is just the same as filing any car damage. But the harder part here is that water damage is time-sensitive. The earlier you can file a claim the better. It is because the water can further harm your car if not fixed right away. Another thing to consider is when it floods, it usually happens in a large area. This means there are lots of cars as well that have been damaged due to the flood. Now, if you are going to wait before you file a claim, chances are many of you will file a claim with the same insurance company. This can slow down the process of claims due to mass submissions and surely, first come first serve is the procedure that they will follow. Therefore, you must deal with your flooded car as soon as it’s safe to make a claim ASAP.

Once the claims adjuster checks your car to determine the damage. He will let you know if your insurance will just need to pay for repairs or if it is already totaled or a total loss. Now, what should you do in case of a total loss?

What if your flood-damaged car is a total loss?

Most states have a threshold to be surpassed before a car can be considered a total loss. One example is in Oklahoma if the cost to repair a car is more than 60% of its value, then it will be considered totaled. Now, if the adjuster determines that your car is a total loss, your car insurance policy will just pay you for the actual cash value of your car after depreciation. So let’s say, you bought your vehicle for $35,000 five years ago. Today, the amount of your car depreciates to $23,000. Then your insurance company will just pay you $23,000. 

If You Don’t Have Comprehensive Coverage, What Should You Do?

What if your car was destroyed by a flood and you don’t have comprehensive coverage but you have flood insurance, will it suffice? The answer is NO. 

Having flood insurance will cover your personal property that was damaged inside your car during the flood but not the car itself. That is why adding comprehensive insurance at the start of your policy is recommended to avoid being underinsured. 

Things to keep in mind if your car is still repairable

Some damages to a vehicle can still be saved after a flood. There are just some things that you need to put extra attention to. Once the adjuster decides that your auto can still be repaired, be vigilant in checking all the parts of your car that were damaged. Check for all the parts that have moisture to avoid mold, rust, and mildew. Also, all the wiring, electrical circuits, and engine. Your adjuster will help you throughout the process so don’t hesitate to ask questions.

How to Protect Your Car From Flood

Being ready is the best that anyone can do to avoid being helpless in the event of a disaster. Here are things that you do to prevent your vehicle from flood damage:

  1. Make sure that your auto insurance has comprehensive and flood insurance.
  2. Stay updated with the weather forecast. 
  3. If you know that there will be a possibility of flooding, park your car in a high area.

We understand that you want to have the best insurance that fits your needs. That is why our team is here to help! Contact us! at Advantage Insurance Solutions in Denver, CO. Let’s work together to get the best price that you can get!

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