Floods are one of the most common natural disasters in the country, destroying property and washing away 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 key safeguards. Here’s what everyone should know about flood damage coverage for car insurance.
Which auto 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.
Comprehensive coverage is the only type of auto insurance that provides flood protection. It also pays for vehicle repairs needed due to storm and hail damage, theft, vandalism, and animal-vehicle collisions. This is optional coverage, 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 is part of a package that many refer to as “comprehensive coverage.” This protects the driver’s vehicle and any other person or property they damage in an accident.
However, comprehensive coverage only protects against unforeseen damage. Water damage that occurs because a driver left their car parked outside with the windows down and the sunroof open during a major storm is not covered by full coverage or any other part of a car insurance policy.
What about flood insurance?
Homeowners looking to protect themselves against flood damage should purchase a separate flood insurance policy, as a standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not protect against flooding. But unfortunately, flood insurance policies do not offer any protection for vehicles.
However, if a driver has personal items in their vehicle that suffer water damage, this may be covered by a flood insurance policy. Check the terms of the flood insurance policy to see what it does and does not cover, and contact the insurer with any questions.
What to do if you don’t have full coverage
If you are unsure of the amount of your car insurance, it is advisable to check the terms of the policy to find out if it includes comprehensive coverage. If not, it might be worth adding more. Better not put it off any longer. Insurers can impose binding limitations before an impending severe storm, such as a hurricane, which prevents customers from adding full coverage to their policy before the storm is over.
Adding full coverage is quite simple. Drivers can contact their current insurer to find out more about the addition or get quotes from other companies to see if they offer a better deal. The cost will depend on several factors, including the driver’s record and the make and model of the vehicle.
If adding this coverage is not financially feasible, the driver will need to take steps to avoid flood damage, as they will not be fully protected. This can include quickly fixing cracks and leaking joints and not parking the car in low areas when it is 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 that drivers should follow.
Take photos of the damage
Drivers must take photos showing the extent of damage to the vehicle. They can submit it with their claim form to their insurer.
Take steps to minimize damage
Avoid doing anything that could further damage the vehicle. Starting the car, for example, could lead to water damage to the engine.
Try to have the vehicle towed and remove as much water as possible. It may also be worth taking the vehicle to a mechanic to see if any of its fluids need to be changed.
Contact the insurance company
Notify the insurance company as soon as possible to initiate the claims process. Be prepared with incident and insurance policy details, including:
- Insurance policy number
- Name, address and contact details of any driver involved
- Cause of damage
- Place, date and time of the incident
- Photos showing the damage
Drivers may be able to reach by phone or in person, depending on the insurance company. Many insurers now also offer online claim forms, which drivers can submit at any time. They can also follow the progress of their case.
Wait for the insurance adjuster
The insurance company will send one of its adjusters to examine the damage. The adjuster will determine if the policy covers the claim and, if so, how much the insurance company should 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 they want the vehicle repaired and the insurance company will give them a check for the damage, minus the auto insurance policy deductible.
Will flood damage claims increase my insurance premium?
Car insurance companies often raise driver rates after filing a car insurance claim. Flood damage to a vehicle may be due to an unforeseen event rather than driver negligence, but insurance premiums aren’t based solely on driving habits.
Companies also take into account the likelihood of natural disasters occurring in the driver’s area. Those who live near the coast, for example, may pay higher rates because there is an increased risk of hurricanes and flood damage to their cars. This is not the fault of the driver, but it represents an increased risk that the insurer will have to pay. So to hedge those bets, they charge those drivers more.