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Flood Damage - Is My Car At Risk?

Super-storm Sandy has affected over 60M peoples across a swath hundreds of mile wide, positioning it as one of the most devastating storms of the century, dropping record rain, snow, floods and power outages across the entire eastern seaboard and into Canada. The numbers are staggering, especially for homeowners and renters in the affected areas.

The damage estimates and recovery efforts are just starting, and in the words of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, "Are Incalculable". Reuters quoted a noted disaster recovery firm was putting the number at $20B. Millions will lose personal property to wind and flood damage and automobiles, subject to wind, debris and water damage, will be among them.

Good News

Unlike the majority of the people who's homes are going to be affected by Sandy's wide spread flooding (Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates that less than 10% of owners in high risk areas carry appropriate flood coverage) , most people's vehicles will be covered, if they are carrying comprehensive damage insurance on their auto insurance policy.

FEMA and the Red Cross help Sandy Victims

According to the Insurance Information Institute, a non-profit organization that reports statistical data and policy trends, comprehensive coverage will reimburse drivers for loss due to damage caused by something other than a collision with another car or object, such as fire, falling objects, catastrophic storms, vandalism, or contact with animals such as birds or deer. This includes flooding.

"Although many states do not require that you purchase comprehensive coverage, if you have a car loan, your lender may have required you carry it until your loan is paid off," said Jeanne Salvatore, Sr. Vice President of the I.I.I. "Comprehensive insurance is usually sold with a $100 to $300 deductible".

The other important factor is timing of the policy. With weather technology and forecasting information so widely available, and early in the life of the storm, many people don't think about their coverage until The Weather Channel has them thinking about the path of the storm and how they might be affected. This is not the time to buy the policy; most insurers will not allow coverage for autos in the path of an identified storm, in order to protect themselves from fraudulent claims.

Sandy Put My Car Underwater - Now What?

The best advice is to be prepared - drivers should know what their auto insurance covers. When you purchase the policy, or if you are not sure, pull out the policy and review it for coverages, specifically those not associated with damage cause by other vehicles, i.e, flooding, tree damage, hail, etc.

Find out what to do after your car has flooded

At this point though, if your car sustained damages due to recent flooding, follow these 3 tips:

1. Report damage as soon as possible. If your car is not drivable, your agent or claims center may be able to save you time and money by having the car towed directly to the repair facility instead of to a temporary storage facility. In addition, arrangements may be made immediately to provide you with a replacement rental car, if your policy includes this coverage.

2.  Know what your deductible is and any other additional charges before authorizing work. Expect your insurance adjuster, claims representative or repair facility appraiser to review the damage with you and explain the repair process, including the use of original or generic auto parts. Before authorizing repairs, know what your deductible is, as well as any additional charges you will be expected to pay once repairs are complete.

3. Ask about warranties on repairs. Ask whether your insurer has a repair facility referral program that offers a written limited or lifetime repair warranty backed both by the repairer and insurer for as long as you own your vehicle.

Surviving a storm like Sandy is never easy, but knowing at least your auto is covered is a small piece of mind, and one less worry in the aftermath.



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