Does the car insurance cowl flood injury? What to know in case your car was broken in a storm – NorthJersey.com
Thousands of vehicles were flooded after Ida dropped unprecedented amounts of rain in the area on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.
Cars have been flooded in garages, left on the edge of highways, or taken from driveways by raging waters.
Paramus had about 200 cars abandoned Wednesday night, most of them on Route 17.
At least 50 abandoned cars were stuck in the water on Newark Avenue in Bloomfield. Even cars parked in garages are not safe, residents of Fort Lee said.
If your car was among the casualties, there are a few steps you need to take to get your car running again after the flood or to file an insurance claim.
Does the car insurance cover flood damage?
What happens next depends on the extent of the damage and the type of auto insurance you have, but people should prepare for the worst and expect their cars to be totaled, according to ConsumerReports.org.
Flood damage is covered when you have comprehensive coverage that only about a third of the people wear, Consumer Reports said.
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"If a person has extensive coverage (before the storm, of course), they should be insured for hurricane damage, including flooded cars," said Ellen Edmonds, a spokeswoman for AAA.
"Car owners should file an application as soon as possible, especially given the possibility of mold growth," said Loretta L. Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute. “Pictures can be helpful in showing the extent of the damage. There could be physical damage from fallen tree lines and flooding. Much damage can also be electrical that cannot be seen in a photo or video. "
How to check for flood damage
Justin Herndon, a spokesman for Allstate Insurance, urged owners to be careful when they are finally reunited with their vehicles. When inspecting your flood damaged vehicle, Herndon recommends that you:
- Investigate the potential damage to the car and note how high the water has risen in your car.
- Don't try to start your car when you get back. This causes more damage when there is water in the engine.
- Start drying your vehicle as soon as possible and contact a towing service to get it back to a higher elevation.
"Drying a car flooded with salt water quickly is especially important because salt water is very corrosive," said Herndon.
How do I complain if my car has been flooded with water?
Contact the agent or company that sold you the insurance policy to make a claim. Many insurers already have or will soon set up disaster control stations in some of the damaged areas.
Document your property damage with photos and videos as soon as possible, if you can safely do so, and pass this information on to your insurance expert.
Consumer Reports urges owners to obtain a claim number and the appraiser's name and phone number when filing a report.
"Find out when you can expect to be contacted. Request a withdrawal estimate and ask how you can limit your expenses. If you need to rent a car, ask for refund details beforehand."
How do I know if I'm buying a flood damaged car?
This huge loss of vehicles comes at a time when car stocks are very low and demand is high due to pandemic bottlenecks. The prices for used cars have skyrocketed. That could make it tempting for unscrupulous dealers to sell out flood-damaged cars.
It is an illegal advertising practice for a New Jersey dealer not to disclose in their advertisements that a motor vehicle has been previously damaged if the damage is in excess of $ 1,000 and is known or should have been known to the dealer, according to New Jersey Consumer Affairs.
Here are some tips from the state authority on how to identify car damage in a flood:
- Examine the entire interior of the vehicle for watermarks or dirt.
- Look for evidence on the upholstery and carpet. Take a look under the floor mats. Look for damp spots, especially in the seat pad, which is taking longer to dry.
- Look for rust on screws, seat springs, and other metal areas that would normally not be expected to get water in.
- Check the trunk for water stains. With your spare tire in the trunk, check underneath for signs of rust on the rim, as well as the metal pieces holding the tire in place.
- Watch out for mold or musty smells as well as strong smells from shampoos, air fresheners or disinfectants.
- Test all lights, displays, and electronic systems.
- Lift the hood and inspect the engine compartment for dirt, sand, or debris.
- Look for fog or condensation in the headlights, taillights, and instrument panel.
- Always test drive the car as part of your inspection. Keep the windows open to make it easier to spot suspicious smells.
Kristie Cattafi is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For full access to the most important news from your local community, subscribe or activate your digital account today.