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How to File an Insurance Claim on a Flooded Car
By the RestorationSOS Educational Staff
When Hurricane Sandy slammed into the northeastern United States in October 2012, she caused massive damage to life and property, including the destruction of more than 250,000 automobiles. Most of these were destroyed by flood damage. If you are the owner of a vehicle that was destroyed by Sandy, or by any other flood event, it is important to check your insurance policy. If you have comprehensive coverage, then your vehicle may be replaceable. Straight liability will not cover any sort of flood damage or destruction.
If you do have comprehensive coverage, the procedure for filing a claim is as follows:
Take plenty of pictures of the vehicle before calling your insurance provider. Unless the vehicle is partially submerged, it can often be difficult to convey the level of the damage effectively. Take many pictures from every possible angle, making sure to capture any sediment or debris that is stuck to the grill, bumpers, or body of the car. For the interior, take pictures of the flooring, dashboard, upholstery, and inside the trunk and engine compartments. The more thorough the photographic record, the better.
Contact your agent. Keep in mind that following a major severe weather event like Sandy, it may take a period of several days before an adjuster arrives on your doorstep.
If possible, have a mechanic inspect the vehicle and provide a detailed list of the damage along with a repair estimate. Have that estimate broken down by part and component. Having an independent estimate will help keep the claims adjuster from finagling the numbers to benefit the insurance company and this will improve your chances for a decent insurance settlement.
Check the Kelly Blue Book value of your car, basing it on the condition it was in before the flood damage. This will give you an idea of what to expect when the insurance company pays on the car.
When the claims adjuster does arrive, make sure you are present to answer any questions he may have, and be sure to provide him with the photos and repair estimate we mentioned earlier. Within a week or two, the insurance company should be sending you a check. If you find that the payoff is less than expected, then you do have the right to appeal their decision.
Obviously, the key in matters like this is insurance coverage. If you do not have comprehensive coverage, the time to make that change is now, before the weather turns malevolent. Hundreds of thousands of people in Sandy’s wake found themselves in the position of having to pay for their car and obtain a new one out of their own pocket. Having the proper coverage ensures that whatever Mother Nature decides to throw at you, that you will be ready.
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