With all the talk of El Niño and other potential storms bringing rain and flooding, if your car ends up under water – are you covered? Well, possibly. A lot depends on your auto insurance policy and how long you purchased the coverage prior to your ride getting damaged or submerged.
A flood, whether caused by heavy rains or a river overflowing its banks, can severely damage or total a vehicle in a hurry. But, the good news is – if you purchased comprehensive coverage ahead of your loss, you should be in good shape. Your insurer will, in all likelihood, honor your claim.
An exception might be, if a hurricane is about to pound the coastal and inland areas and you decide at the last minute to rush out and get comprehensive and collision added to your policy. Be aware that most insurance companies are wise to the practice of people wanting to pay for the coverage only a few days rather than the full year in order to file a claim for damage or total loss.
That’s why the purchase of comprehensive coverage is restricted for areas in the hurricane’s path. Therefore, to avoid having your claim denied – buy the coverage ahead of time and keep it for the entire year. Don’t dump it once the threat has passed.
In certain cases, and depending on the extent of damage to your vehicle from flood waters, some car insurance companies may opt to pay for the repairs instead of declaring it a total loss. Unfortunately, this can present a slew of future problems down the road.
Once your vehicle is the victim of a major flood and submerged for any period of time, the engine, transmission, and other vital mechanical parts will be damaged. And, while it isn’t common practice, if your insurance company insists on repairing the damage, you will likely have to use your insurer’s preferred body shop. The reason for this is that the work is usually guaranteed. So, if your vehicle turns into a nightmare, the repairs are on the insurance carrier and not out of your pocket.
What factors make your vehicle a total loss?
While the declaration of your vehicle as a total loss is entirely up to your insurance company, in general, these factors will determine its future:
• Damage to your vehicle is so extensive it can’t be repaired safely.
• Costs to repair your vehicle far surpass its worth
• If the damage or the cost to repair your vehicle is determined to be too much, according to state regulations or your insurance company’s guidelines for total loss.
Some states, such as South Carolina, use what’s known as a Total Loss Threshold (TLT), which is mandated by law, to dictate the damage ratio needed to declare a vehicle totaled.
For example, if your vehicle has a value of $20,000 and the damage is estimated at $15,000 – using South Carolina’s TLT ratio of 75 percent – your vehicle would be considered a total loss.
But – keep in mind that – none of this matters, if you don’t have collision and comprehensive coverage on your vehicle. Make sure you’ve got all the insurance coverage you need by comparing rates on low cost auto insurance. So, why not get your free auto insurance quote today.