Hurricane Sandy was especially brutal on cars, destroying an estimated 250,000 vehicles. Some were crushed by toppling trees, but most were wiped out by flood waters.
If your vehicle was totaled, check your car insurance policy. If you’re only covered for liability, you’re out of luck. Only comprehensive insurance covers vehicle flood damage. If you have comprehensive, here’s what to do:
- Before calling your insurance company, take pictures of your vehicle. The more hard evidence you provide, the better your chances for a high payout. Let the shutter fly. Takes lots of pictures from different angles. Snap photos of the interior, the exterior, engine compartment and trunk. Even if the flood waters have subsided, water always leaves debris behind – silt, mud, sticks – indicating how high the water reached.
- Once you have photos, call your insurance agent. Don’t expect a claims adjustor to arrive within a few hours. Due to the volume of claims, it may be weeks before a claims adjustor knocks on your door.
- If, as expected, the claims adjustor deems your car totaled (if the water level reached the dashboard, in most instances the car will be declared totaled) you will then be asked to sign the title of the car over to the insurance company. You will then be compensated, by your insurance provider, with a check based on the car’s current market value. Keep in mind you can challenge an appraisal that you believe is too low.
What to do if Your Totaled Car is Not Covered by Comprehensive Insurance
If your vehicle is not covered, you have four possible hail-mary options for receiving some form of payment for you car:
- Check your homeowners policy. If you have good coverage, there’s a possibility it could cover your vehicle if it was parked in your garage when the damage occurred from flooding or a toppled tree.
- Check with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). If your vehicle was uninsured there’s chance it may provide you with financial assistance.
- Check with the Small Business Association (SBA). Depending on the circumstances, the SBA may provide you with a federally subsidized loan.
- Sell it to a salvage yard.