Is Your Car Totaled After a Flood?

In the past, when a person asked questions like, “Is your car totaled after a flood?” Most people would probably say a resounding yes. We thought so too after a storm made the Delaware River overflow its banks, totally dunking our two cars.  Our house was pretty easy to deal with.  We called a great Trenton-based water restoration business and it was fully covered by insurance.  However, the insurance with the car was a little different.  Since many business practices have changed over the years, insurance companies are doing everything to hold on to that extra dollar. It is also important to note that the decisions being made today are not always in the consumer’s favor, especially because of the huge impact that Katrina had on this industry (i.e. yielded over 200,000 flooded cars). Therefore, the answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. With this being said, here’s some facts about insurance estimates as they relate to car flood claims.

Hidden Damage Not Part of the Estimate

In some cases, a car that has been in a flood may not be automatically totaled by the adjuster. In fact, when the adjuster looks over the car, they may intentionally overlook water damage that is not visible to naked eye. Therefore, they may write up their claim based on only the things that they can identify quickly with their assessment. Unfortunately, this practice can leave the vehicle owner at a big loss in the future since some problems may not appear at all until after the claim has been settled. For instance, if the water damage flood was severe enough, it could impact the vehicle’s entire electrical system. When this occurs, the vehicle owner may have to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars out of pocket for their repairs.

Cars Being Sold All Over the Country with Flood Damage

When an individual purchases a used car today, it is important that they do a thorough job of researching the vehicle’s history. This research can be done in numerous ways, however, the most accurate way of getting the facts is doing a search on the vehicles vin number. With this research, the information that the prospective buyer discovers can be used in their decision to make the purchase. Since the situations for each search can vary, the actions taken after the search may result in the person making the purchase or moving on to another used car for consideration. For those who want to make sure that they are making a smart decision, it is essential for them to eliminate any potential car purchases that involve any type of flood damage. This is because the number of cars being sold with flood damage has increased greatly over the years. Many of which are due to insurance companies not totaling the vehicle when it has sustained flood damage and other reasons. Therefore, if an individual is trying to buy a used car, many professionals in the industry will say do not buy a used car that comes from areas that are known for having floods in their areas. In specific, cars that have crossed borders and are being sold in other states.

When Are Cars Totaled?

Based on comments from numerous resources on the Internet and other creditable resources, some people are having to fight for their cars to be totaled when they have been involved in a flood. So, it is essential for people who have these situations to understand the practices of an insurance company if these situations do occur. For instance, it is important to note that a car may be totaled automatically by most insurance companies when:

  • The vehicle is swimming in mud and there is no possibility of cleaning it up or even estimating the extent of damage to the electrical system
  • Vehicle is no longer functional because the water damage is too severe
  • Water reaches the bottom of the dashboard
  • Cost of repairs more than value of the car

These decisions are also made based on the type of water involved in flood. For instance, a distinction for damage is made based on salt water flooding, blackish water flooding, or clear water flooding. With salt water flooding and blackish water creating all kinds of expensive problems, the insurance company may total the vehicle right away.

As stated previously, the response to this question is not always as simple as one may think. With business practices changing dramatically in the insurance industry over the years, and so many cars being affected by flooding in certain geographical locations, the decisions to total the car can vary greatly from one insurance company and claim to another.