Floods are one of the most common natural disasters in the country, destroying property and sweeping away vehicles — sometimes in minutes. Many don’t think to ask, “Does auto insurance cover flood damage?” until they face the situation themselves, and then drivers don’t want to find out that they lack key protection. Here’s what everyone should know about flood damage to car insurance.
What Car Insurance Covers Water or Flood Damage?
Drivers who want to protect their vehicle from flooding and water damage should take a closer look at comprehensive coverage.
Collision Damage Waiver 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 rental companies and lenders require it if the driver has a lease or loan on the vehicle.
Coupled with collision protection and state-mandated liability insurance, comprehensive coverage becomes part of a bundle that many refer to as “fully comprehensive.” This protects the driver’s vehicle and any other person or property that damages them in an accident.
However, fully comprehensive insurance only protects against unforeseen damage. Water damage that occurs because a driver parked their car outside during a severe storm with the windows down and the sunroof open is not covered by collision damage waiver or any other part of car insurance.
What about flood insurance?
Homeowners wishing to protect themselves against flood damage must purchase separate flood insurance, as standard home insurance does not cover flooding. Unfortunately, flood insurance does not provide protection for vehicles.
However, if a driver has personal items in their vehicle that suffer water damage, they may be covered by flood insurance. Check the terms of the flood insurance policy to see what it does and doesn’t cover, and contact the insurer with any questions.
What to do if you don’t have comprehensive insurance coverage?
If you’re not sure how much your car insurance covers, you should check the terms of the policy to see if it includes collision damage waiver. If not, it might be worth adding. It is best not to procrastinate. Before a severe impending storm, such as a hurricane, insurers can impose mandatory restrictions that prevent customers from adding comprehensive coverage to their policy until the storm has passed.
Adding comprehensive coverage is pretty easy. Drivers can contact their current insurer to inquire about adding them, or they can get quotes from other companies to see if they offer a better deal. The cost depends on several factors, including the driver’s records 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 may include having cracks and leaking seals repaired promptly and not parking the car in low-lying areas if it can be avoided.
How to report flood damage to car insurance
Filing a claim for flood damage car insurance is the same as filing any other type of car insurance claim. Here are the steps drivers should follow.
Take photos of the damage
Drivers should take photos showing the extent of the damage to the vehicle. You can submit this to your insurer along with your claim form.
Take action to minimize the damage
Avoid anything that could worsen the damage to the vehicle. For example, starting the car could cause water damage to the engine.
Try to tow the vehicle and get as much water out of it as possible. It can also be helpful to take the vehicle to a mechanic to see if any of its fluids need draining.
Contact the insurance company
Notify the insurance company as soon as possible to start the claims process. Prepare with details about the incident and the insurance policy, including:
- Insurance policy number
- Name, address and contact information of all drivers involved
- cause of the damage
- Location, date and time of the incident
- Photos show the damage
Depending on the insurance company, drivers can contact us by phone or in person. Many insurers now also offer online claims forms that drivers can submit at any time. You can also track the progress of your claim.
Wait for the insurance adjuster
The insurance company sends one of their experts to assess the damage. The adjuster will determine if the policy will cover the claim and if so, how much the insurance company will have to 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, provided it is a covered claim. The driver can choose where to have the vehicle repaired, and the insurance company will write them a check for the damage minus the car insurance deductible.
Will my insurance premiums increase in the event of flood damage?
Auto insurance companies often increase a driver’s rates after they file an auto insurance claim. Flood damage to a vehicle can be the result of an unplanned event rather than driver negligence, but insurance premiums aren’t just based on driving habits.
Companies also consider the likelihood of natural disasters in the driver’s area. For example, those who live near the coast may pay higher fees because of the increased risk of hurricanes and flood damage to their cars. This is not the fault of the driver, but represents an increased risk that the insurer will have to pay. To hedge these bets, they charge these drivers more.