Floods are one of the most common natural disasters in the country, destroying property and wiping out vehicles – sometimes within minutes. Many don’t think to ask, “Does auto insurance cover flood damage?” until they face the situation themselves, and that’s not when drivers want to find out they’re missing important safeguards. Here’s what everyone should know about auto insurance flood damage coverage.
Which car insurance policies cover water or flood damage?
Drivers looking to protect their vehicle from flooding and water damage should take a closer look at comprehensive coverage.
The all-risk insurance is the only car insurance that offers protection against flooding. It also pays for vehicle repairs required due to storm and hail damage, theft, vandalism, and animal-vehicle collisions. This is an optional protection, but many lessors and lenders require it if the driver has a lease or loan on the vehicle.
Combined with collision coverage and state-mandated liability insurance, comprehensive coverage becomes part of a bundle that many refer to as “full coverage.” This protects the driver’s vehicle and any other people or property they damage in an accident.
However, comprehensive coverage only protects against accidental damage. Water damage that occurs because a driver has parked their car outside with the windows down and the sunroof open during a severe storm is not covered by comprehensive coverage or any other component of auto insurance.
What about flood insurance?
Homeowners who want to protect themselves against flood damage should purchase separate flood insurance, as standard home insurance does not provide flood protection. Unfortunately, flood insurance does not cover vehicles.
However, if a driver has personal items in their vehicle that sustain water damage, they may be covered by flood insurance. Check the terms of the flood insurance policy to see what it does and does not cover, and contact the insurer if you have any questions.
What to do if you don’t have comprehensive coverage?
If you’re not sure how much car insurance you have, it’s a good idea to check the terms of the policy to find out if it includes comprehensive coverage. If not, it might be worth adding. It is best not to delay this. Insurers can impose binding restrictions in advance of a serious approaching storm, such as a hurricane, preventing customers from adding comprehensive coverage to their policies until after the storm.
Adding extended coverage is quite easy. Drivers can contact their current insurer to see if they can add it or get quotes from other companies to see if they offer a better deal. The cost depends on several factors, including the driver’s record and the make and model of the vehicle.
If adding this coverage is not financially viable, the driver must take steps to avoid flood damage, as he will not be fully protected. This may include quickly repairing cracks and leaking seals and not parking the car in low-lying areas when avoidable.
How to file a car insurance claim for flood damage
Filing an auto insurance claim for flood damage is the same as filing any other type of auto insurance claim. Here are the steps drivers should follow.
Take pictures of the damage
Drivers must take photographs showing the extent of damage to the vehicle. They can submit this together with their claim form to their insurer.
Take measures to limit the damage
Don’t do anything that could make the damage to the vehicle worse. For example, starting the car can lead to water damage to the engine.
Try to tow the vehicle and remove as much water from it as possible. It may also be helpful to take the vehicle to a mechanic to see if any fluids need to be drained.
Contact the insurance company
Notify the insurance company as soon as possible to initiate the claims process. Be prepared with details about the incident and insurance policy, including:
- Insurance policy number
- Name, address and contact details of the director(s) involved.
- Cause of the damage
- Location, date and time of the incident
- Photos showing the damage
Drivers may be able to contact you by phone or in person, depending on the insurance company. Many insurers now also offer online claim forms that drivers can submit at any time. They can also track the progress of their claim.
Wait for the insurance expert
The insurance company will send one of their loss adjusters to review the damage. The loss adjuster determines whether the policy covers the claim and, if so, how much the insurance company must pay to repair the damage.
Have the vehicle repaired
Once the insurance company has completed its assessment, it will pay to repair the damage to the vehicle, assuming it is a covered claim. The driver can choose where to have the vehicle repaired and the insurance company will pay him a check for the damage, minus the auto insurance deductible.
Will flood damage claims increase my insurance premium?
Auto insurance companies often raise a driver’s rates after they file a car insurance claim. Flood damage to a vehicle may be the result of an unplanned event rather than driver negligence, but insurance premiums are not based solely on driving habits.
Companies also take into account the risk of natural disasters in the driver’s area. For example, those who live near the coast may pay higher rates because there is an increased risk of hurricanes and flood damage to their cars. This is not the driver’s fault, but an increased risk that the insurer must pay out. So to hedge these bets, they charge these drivers more.