JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Dealing with vehicle flood damage can be a timely and costly process. Here are 10 tips you should know before you deal with a flood-damaged car.
1. What are some of the first things I should do if I have a flood-damaged vehicle?
Before anything, it’s important to find out how much damage was done to your vehicle.
• State Farm Automobile Insurance says you SHOULD NOT try to start your car. This will cause more damage to your vehicle if there is water in the engine.
• Dry out your care as soon as possible and call a tow truck to get your car to higher ground. Note: The transmission fluid, lube, and oil may need draining before the car is towed, according to State Farm Automobile Insurance.
• Take your car to a mechanic, who will be able to determine the extent of the damage. You’ll also be able to find out more about the vehicle’s electrical components.
• Clean your car’s interior by getting rid of all the moisture and absorb all water. If you can, State Farm Automobile Insurance suggests that you remove seats and seat cushions. Be sure to get professional advice to ensure that you don’t end up with mold, electrical issues, and other problems.
• After all of this has been done you can find out more about repair costs.
2. Is a flood-damaged car worth repairing?
It all depends on how much you are willing to spend on the car. Rule of thumb: if the water went past the floorboards and into the areas where the electronics are located, you may want to let the car go. Take the car to a specialist or a mechanic to determine whether it’s worth putting money towards fixing it.
3. How do I minimize the effects of water damage to my car?
Note: Disconnect the battery before you start working on your car.
• Remove all standing water from your car. Try using a bucket or cup at first to get as much water out as possible.
• Try using a wet or dry vacuum to remove the water from inside of your car.
• Be sure to hang up any loose items, such as car mats, etc.
• As mentioned before, try removing the seats and console. These items will need to be removed to try and keep the floors from rusting.
• Lift the carpet out of your car and hang it up to dry. Do your best to remove the carpet all at once, as opposed to pulling it up in pieces.
• Be sure to wash out the carpeting and mats. You can use a garden hose or pressure washer.
• Set up fans in your car to help speed up the drying process.
• Once you’ve put everything back into your car, make sure you deodorize your car. This will help cut back on the bad smells. Try using baking soda, an air sponge, and paper towels.
4. Will my insurance cover the costs?
Geico Automobile Insurance says you are covered for flood damage to your vehicle if you have comprehensive auto coverage. If you don’t have your policy, be sure to call your insurer.
5. Does a flood-damaged vehicle equate to my car being classified as totaled?
It can be depending on the vehicle, if cost is more than what the vehicle is worth, then that is a total loss, according to Geico.
The final decision will be made by your insurance company. Geico says it can vary depending on the vehicle and said the insurance company will look at your car’s actual cash value versus the cost of repairs. Your insurer will consider the car totaled if fixing it costs more than what it’s actually worth.
6. How do I file an insurance claim?
Get in touch with your insurance company as soon as you can. Just like any other claim, you’ll need to take pictures of the damage. Your company will then send an adjuster to evaluate the damages.
Note: Companies have to pay claims in a timely matter, Geico confirmed.
7. What should I do if my car floated away?
Reach out to the police department’s unclaimed autos department to find out if your vehicle has been located.
8. What do I do if I think my car is worth more than what my insurance company is willing to pay?
There are a couple of steps you should take if you think your car is worth more than what the insurer is telling you.
Submitted to claims for review, as well.
• Get a quote from a used-car dealer.
• Try looking at prices online for your car or similar cars.
• Be sure to take note of any special features or custom your car may have.
• It never hurts to try and negotiate with the insurance company.
9. What happens if I owe more than the settlement?
It all depends on whether you have a gap policy. If you have a gap policy, it should cover the difference between what you owe and the settlement amount, Geico said. If you don’t have a gap policy then you will have to take care of the remainder of the loan.
10. How do I avoid buying a flood-damaged car?
Flood-damaged cars can often show up in used parking lots. Here are a few things you should look out for when purchasing a used car:
• Only buy from a reputable car dealer.
• Ask the dealer if the car has flood damage and be sure to get it in writing. If a car has suffered flood damage, the dealer is required to disclose this information.
• If you believe the car has flood damage, ask to see the title. Also ask for the car’s history.
• Have a professional inspect the car.
• Get a Carfax.
Note: Find out what kind of flood damage you are dealing with and how extensive the damage is. Flood damage doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t buy the car. The car may still be in good condition and worth purchasing.