If your car has been submerged or damaged in flood, comprehensive insurance can cover the repair costs because flooding is among the listed perils in the United States.
Every year, many people are exposed to the hazards of a flood. Insurance companies acknowledge that flooding is a classified natural disaster.
The primary caveat here is that you must be holding comprehensive coverage before your car sustains flood damage.
What Is Comprehensive Coverage?
Minimum liability insurance coverage is a requirement in most states. This is to ensure that you are protected if you injure someone or damage property in an accident.
It means you don’t always need comprehensive insurance. However, it is a necessary coverage to have. It is an addition to collision coverage designed to protect your vehicle.
Collision coverage covers your vehicle’s damage after an accident, regardless of who was at fault – whether it is a collision with another car, object, pole, or rollover accident.
Comprehensive insurance is collision coverage in addition to coverage for any damage to your car when it is not being driven. This includes damage from:
- Theft and vandalism.
- Damage caused by animals.
- Falling object, including hail storms.
- Extreme weather (water and flood damage).
Flood protection is categorized in extreme weather, which includes losses caused by flash floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes.
In most cases, comprehensive coverage comes with a deductible.
When Can You Benefit From Car Flood Insurance?
Many car insurance companies enact binding restrictions at any indication of significant weather events. If a storm approaches, insurance companies restrict changes to existing policies or new business lines in a given geographic area.
Insurers restrict policy-buying, when major weather events approach, to limit their exposure to the probable hefty and costly claim payouts as a result of flooding or violent storms.
When enacted, binding restrictions will prevent you from adding comprehensive car insurance before a storm. This means you need to carry comprehensive car coverage before they enact the restriction.
Here is a point to note:
Bear in mind, when the insurer lifts their binding restrictions depend on them. Your best bet for adding comprehensive coverage to your car after floods is to call your insurance agent to ask when and they can lift the binding restriction.
How Does Car Flood Insurance Work?
Flood damage insurance is often a complicated topic.
First, you need to have comprehensive insurance. It is the only thing that qualifies you to file a claim payout. Second, the level of damage will determine how much insurance payout you claim after deductibles.
Additionally, claim payout also depends on the level to which your car is submerged in floodwater and the damages caused.
The level of flood damage often depends on how much flood water enters your car, and where. However, any amount of water can cause damage. So, it’s prudent that after a flooding incident, you get your vehicle checked in detail.
Floodwater, or flood-related incidents, can cause small cosmetic issues such as moldy interior, rust, and foggy lights. However, under partial or total submersion, it can cause extensive damage to the car’s mechanical and electrical systems, including:
- Computer malfunctions.
- Engine seizure.
- Transmission failure.
- Warped brakes.
- Airbag failure.
If the floodwater line doesn’t go higher than your car’s floor surface, you may be lucky and avoid major damages. This may result in minor repairs that are covered by your deductible.
Comprehensive coverage can pay (after the deductible) for car repair costs, after examination, or reimburse the car’s actual cash value if it is a total loss.
Here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Comprehensive coverage does not pay for items that are not permanently installed in the car. These items are called removable such as GPS systems, radio, or car trackers.
- Car flood insurance does not include neglecting your car by failing to close the sunroof in average rain. That is not classified as flooding.
- Floods involving salty waters are more damaging to the car. They can introduce other risks such as corrosion in addition to other flood-related damages.
In the event of a flooding incident and/or accident, you should always consult with your insurance agent before making a claim. You also have to contact your insurance company as soon as possible and report the flood incident and damage.
Your insurer will also make arrangements to have the car evaluated by their preferred body shop or a certified technician to assess the damage.
What If You Do Not Have Comprehensive Coverage?
Insurers are very clear on their flood coverage. You must have comprehensive coverage to claim for a payout.
Unfortunately, this means there is little you can do if you don’t have comprehensive coverage in the event of a flood.
You can use the liability part of your car insurance policy to cover the damages you cause to other drivers only.
Your renters or homeowners insurance policy also does not cover damage from flooding. Even if you have listed flood as a named peril, it could only cover the personal property that the flood destroyed in your car – not the car itself.
This Leaves you with one option – to add comprehensive coverage to your insurance policy and shield yourself from the damaging flood.
How To File A Car Flood Insurance Claim
Flood claims can be a little different from other car insurance claims for two reasons:
- After floods, a car is often deemed a total loss.
- Floods impact the general population, which means more claims on the insurer’s part that results in logistical or financial strain.
To file a claim, you can either call your insurance company’s claim center or file the claim online if your company has such a provision.
You need to file a claim as soon as possible for two reasons because prolonged waiting can cause further damage to your car on the water.
In the meantime, take pictures or record videos of your car from different angles to capture the flood damage. We recommend you dry out the car as much as possible until your car insurance claims adjuster arrives.
To further minimize the damage:
- Do not start your car to prevent potential water damage in the engine from being worse.
- Use a certified mechanic to check whether the transmission fluid, oil, and lube should be drained.
- Wait until the water recedes then get a towing service to help you move your car to higher ground.
The claim adjuster will determine if the car is a ‘total loss’ to be replaced or if the vehicle needs repairs.
Car flood insurance is usually a simple, yet complicated topic. In most cases, claims for car flood insurance do not follow the procedure of other insurance claims. It would help if you took precautions to ensure you follow the right procedures.