Does Car Insurance Cover Flood Damage?
Flood damage is the invisible car-killer. Your vehicle might look fine after a flood. It might even run OK, at first. But water can harm your engine, corrode electrical components, and sneak into your fuel system.
What happens then? Will your car insurance cover flood damage? The short answer is yes, but only if you have comprehensive coverage. If you do, your car insurance should pay for flood damage to your vehicle.
Will Car Insurance Cover Flood Damage?
Comprehensive, as its name suggests, is the “everything else” part of your car insurance. It pays for damage to your vehicle that’s caused by anything other than a collision. That includes damage caused by water, whether a flash flood, storm surge, hurricane, etc.
Whether your vehicle gets totaled by floodwaters or just needs some minor repairs, you can file a comprehensive claim to have your comprehensive coverage pay for the damage.
Don’t have this coverage? Don’t wait too long to get it! You can’t buy comprehensive coverage after a flood or other event damages your car.
To find the cheapest comprehensive car insurance (and other coverage), compare auto insurance quotes on Compare.com.
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What Should You Do if Your Car Gets Damaged in a Flood?
Unlike other types of vehicle damage, flooding requires a careful approach. Here’s what you should do if your car gets flooded:
Step 1: Don’t start it! You can make the flood damage worse if you start the car when there’s water in the engine or fuel system. If you believe the floodwaters may have risen high enough to reach the engine, or if your car is still standing in water, call a tow truck to move your vehicle. It should be inspected by a certified mechanic to make sure it’s safe to operate.
Step 2: Take pictures. Photos can help you file your car insurance claim by showing the full extent of the flood damage. Take pictures of your vehicle’s surroundings; any visible waterlines or damage to the exterior; and any water damage to the interior or under the hood.
Step 3: Call your insurance company. You’ll want to file a claim as soon as possible. Your insurer will probably tell you to take the vehicle to a local mechanic to have the damage assessed.
Step 4: Start drying out the interior. When a car is seriously flood-damaged, the insurance company will total it. But just in case they decide it’s repairable, you’re going to want to act fast to dry the interior so you don’t end up with a funky-smelling car full of mold.
If you’re able to take your car to the mechanic right away, they may use a wet/dry vacuum and high-powered fans to remove moisture. If there’s a delay (because thousands of other vehicles got flooded too), you’ll have to do it yourself.
Use towels to soak up any standing water. Take out the floor mats, after-market seat covers and any other upholstery that’s removable. You may even want to remove the carpets. Wash all fabric pieces with fresh water and hang them to dry. Wipe clean the hard parts of the interior. Then use fans, heaters, dehumidifiers — anything you have — to fully dry your car.
How Much Does Flood Damage Car Insurance Cost?
If you own a house, you probably know that your homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover flooding. You need to buy a separate policy for that.
Flood protection for your car is different! It’s automatically included in your comprehensive coverage, which isn’t that expensive. On average, comprehensive coverage costs around $13 per month. The cost can vary a lot, however, depending on whether you:
- Drive a newer or an older vehicle
- Live in a state with high or low average insurance rates
- Live in an area with a higher risk of flooding or other risks
- Choose a low or a high deductible
- Have filed multiple comprehensive claims in recent years
Compare.com helps you find the best, cheapest option with our fast and free quote engine.
Do You Need Comprehensive Coverage?
State minimum insurance — the cheapest car insurance you can usually buy — does not include comprehensive coverage. You can legally drive your vehicle without it. Many people choose this basic option so they can save money on their car insurance.
The general rule of thumb is this: If your vehicle is only worth a few thousand dollars, or already has some major mechanical problems, it might not make sense to carry comprehensive. (You can check the Kelley Blue Book value to find out how much it’s worth.) You might be better off saving the money you’d pay for premiums every month and putting it in your new-car fund instead.
However, you will need comprehensive coverage if you have a car loan or lease, because the lender will require it. And in general, it’s smart to protect your car from events like hurricanes, floods, hail, wildfires and other disasters. Flooding, in particular, often totals vehicles completely. If it would cause you financial hardship to have to replace your vehicle after a flood, then you should carry comprehensive.
Do Flood Damage Claims Raise Your Car Insurance Premium?
Let’s say an unexpected storm surge totals your Subaru Outback. Your insurance company pays out its value, and you buy another identical Outback. But wait! Now your comprehensive coverage costs more. Can they do that?
Yes. You may see your rates rise after filing a claim for flood damage to reflect your insurer’s revised risk assessment. You shouldn’t be paying a lot more, however. If you are, it’s time to shop around for cheaper car insurance by comparing quotes on Compare.com. Our customers save an average of $720 a year.