Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States, and when these types of disasters occur, they can have devastating results. For example, when a hurricane or flash flood hits, the flood waters can cause extensive damage and losses to homes and properties in the area. But while the flood damage that occurs to homes from these natural disasters can be extensive and extremely costly, so can other types of flood-related damages.

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Take, for example, the damage that can occur to cars when a hurricane or flash flood hits. Water damage to vehicles is relatively common during floods, and can include both external and internal damage. For example, flood waters can cause mechanical issues, electrical damage, rust and mold spores, and may also leave a layer of moisture or residue in your vehicle, all of which can result in major issues or losses. The good news is that certain types of car insurance may cover flood damage related to your vehicle. Here’s what you should know.

What kind of insurance covers flooding?

While there are two types of automobile insurance that cover damage to your vehicle, comprehensive coverage is the only protection that will cover flood damage to your car. Comprehensive coverage offers broad protection for most damage or loss caused to your vehicle by some factor other than a collision. In addition to flood damage, comprehensive insurance will pay for such things as repair or replacement costs if your car is stolen or vandalized or damaged from fire, hail, falling objects and even damage caused by animals.

Collision coverage, on the other hand, is designed to protect you from financial loss arising from vehicle damage caused in a single or multi car accident.

It is important to note that other types of policies, such as your homeowners insurance, do not typically provide coverage for flooding or other vehicle damage. Additionally, while almost every state requires minimum coverage to allow you to drive legally, this is usually just some type of liability coverage – making comprehensive coverage optional. However, often lenders or car lessors will require you to carry a certain level of comprehensive coverage until you have paid off your loan.

When does flooding cause damage?

Flooding from any weather source can cause significant damage to a vehicle, with water having the ability to cause damage to your car’s engine, electrical system and most other mechanical components of your vehicle.

Some insurance companies will attempt to work out a repair solution before declaring the vehicle is totaled. It is important to understand and discuss with your carrier the many other problems flooding can cause for vehicles that may not appear initially. For example, water infiltration can eventually lead to rust, corrosion, mold and other issues that may not appear for months, or even years.

When does insurance not cover flood damage?

Many people attempt to save some money by purchasing the minimum limits of insurance required by state law. Unfortunately, because these requirements only involve liability insurance, purchasing this type of coverage will not provide any protection from flooding. As mentioned, only comprehensive coverage will cover flooding damage.

Even comprehensive coverage will not provide protection from flooding or simple water infiltration if the damage was caused by negligence on the part of the insured. For example, if water enters a vehicle through an open sun roof or window during a storm, the car insurer will certainly attempt to deny coverage. If successful, the insured party will need to pay for necessary repairs.

How do I file a claim after a flood?

As with any claim, it is important to notify your car insurer as soon as you become aware of flood damage. You don’t need to have all of the details gathered or even understand the extent of damage to provide this initial notice. You can make this initial report by calling your insurance representative or, in many cases, online or with an app. You will be given a claim number.

As soon as possible, gather all information that will document the vehicle damage. This will include photos and a timeline of the flooding that caused the damage. Submit this material to your auto insurer as it is gathered.

At some point, an adjuster will be sent to assess the damage to the vehicle and based upon this appraisal and your input an offer will be made by the insurer. It is always wise to obtain your own assessment of the damage and cost of repair from your own automobile mechanic. Remember that you are under no obligation to accept the first insurance offer and you should feel comfortable making a counter proposal based upon your own assessment.

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