How Auto Policies Respond to a Flood Claim
You might already know that the peril of flood is excluded explicitly under a homeowner’s policy. But is flood covered under your auto insurance?
The short answer is “probably.” In this brief article, the team at IHS Insurance Group will help you understand the nuances of when your car might be covered for flood, and when it could be excluded.
Let’s take it step-by-step.
What is a ‘Flood?’
The comprehensive portion of your auto policy covers many different perils, or causes of loss, including falling objects, theft, fire, vandalism, explosion, animal-related damage, and civil disturbances.
Unlike homeowner’s insurance, comprehensive also protects against damage caused by weather or natural disasters, which encompasses:
- Flood (i.e., rising water)
For example, if your home and all its belongings, including your car in the garage, were flooded after a river breached its banks, your auto policy would likely provide coverage.
Another example: A particularly lousy hail storm passes through the area, which shatters your sunroof, allowing the rain from the following severe thunderstorms to seep into your car’s interior and cause damage. Since hail was the original cause of loss, your auto carrier should cover it.
When is Water Damage Not Covered Under Your Auto Policy?
Although water damage in general, and flood, specifically, are covered under an auto policy, maintenance issues and negligence are excluded.
For example, imagine that you accidentally left your sunroof open during the same severe thunderstorm referenced above. Since this was negligence on your part, it’s likely that—although the same interior damage occurred—your auto carrier would deny the claim.
Alternately, let’s say you own an older vehicle that you primarily use for commuting purposes. Over the years, the seals between the door frame and window glass deteriorate to a point where they allow frequent water intrusion. Since any resulting losses would likely be considered a maintenance problem, likely, they wouldn’t approve any related water damage claims.
Can You Add Comprehensive Coverage to Your Auto Policy at Any Time?
In most instances, you can add comprehensive coverage to your auto policy at any time, as long as your vehicle qualifies with your carrier (i.e., within certain age, mileage, and condition restrictions). And with comprehensive, you’ll gain coverage for the peril of flood.
With this said, insurance carriers often issue moratoriums in advance of natural disaster events. In these instances, new auto policies cannot be issued, and changes cannot be made to existing policies, until after the weather event has passed.
Therefore, if you didn’t have comprehensive coverage in place and a flood-related claim happened to your vehicle, you would likely be left paying for repairs out of your own pocket.
Are Auto Flood Claims Subject to Deductibles?
Just like when you file a homeowner’s claim, or a claim under the comprehensive or collision coverages under your auto policy, your carrier will pay for the losses, less your deductible.
Therefore, if your flood-related damage cost $5,000 to repair and you have a $1,000 deductible, your insurance carrier will cut you (or the shop) a check for $4,000, and you’re responsible for the remainder.
Pro tip: The lower your deductible, the more you’ll pay per month for comprehensive coverage under your auto policy. However, a higher deductible also means that you’ll have to pay more out of your pocket if a related water loss occurs to your vehicle.
What Happens After You File a Flood-Related Auto Claim?
If your car sustains water-related damage, you’ll want to immediately contact your insurance carrier and file a claim as soon as it’s safe to do so. From there, your claims adjuster will advise which actions you should take next. With this said, there are several high-level guidelines you’ll want to keep in mind.
For example, you’ll want to help prevent further damage to your vehicle (e.g., moving it to higher ground, covering broken windows, etc.). Then, start drying any areas you can access as much as possible, whether using towels, shop vacuums, high-powered fans, and even dehumidifiers. Otherwise, you could risk developing mold or other potentially harmful particulate matter in your upholstery.
Keep in mind that it’s notoriously difficult to address every potential problem that can occur to a flooded vehicle. Your insurance company may end up totaling your car, depending on the extent of the water damage.
How Can You Learn More About Flood Coverage Under Your Auto Policy?
The fact of the matter is that insurance companies have reported an increasing number of catastrophe losses over the past decade, so it’s more likely than ever that your car could be involved in a flood loss. And to help ensure you’re fully covered and only sustain minimal out-of-pocket expenses if this occurs, make sure that you carry comprehensive coverage.
The good news is that comprehensive is relatively inexpensive compared to other coverages under an auto policy, and it’s quick and easy to add!
Need a FREE Quote? Or do you have questions about what you should do about flood coverage under your auto policy? We have three convenient ways to reach us:
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We look forward to speaking with you today!