What to do if the Colorado Floods Damaged Your Car

By: Jeff Wozer September 24, 2013
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Floods severely damaged Colorado vehicles that might leave owners high and dry.
Floods severely damaged Colorado vehicles that might leave car owners high and dry.

As Colorado's flood waters begin to recede the damage numbers continue to climb. Officials estimate property damages will total nearly $2 billion, with damaged or destroyed cars being a large part of this assessment.

If your car was damaged or destroyed by the Colorado flood, check your auto insurance policy. Mandatory liability insurance does not cover flood damage. Only comprehensive, an optional policy, protects against flooding. If you are unsure whether your current policy includes comprehensive coverage, immediately contact your provider to know which route to take next.

What to do if You DON'T Have Comprehensive Insurance Coverage

If you did not purchase comprehensive auto insurance coverage BEFORE your vehicle sustained flood damage, you still have some options for reimbursement. They include:

  • Homeowners insurance: Depending on your homeowners coverage plan, your flooded car might be protected under this policy--especially if the damage occurred while your vehicle was parked on your property.
  • FEMA: Register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This helps the government assess how much financial aid to provide to the state. Depending on the circumstances, FEMA might then compensate your damages or loss with financial assistance. Contact FEMA at (800) 621-3362.
  • Disaster loans: Apply for a disaster loan with the Small Business Association (SBA). This agency provides low-interest loans to homeowners and renters who lose personal property in a declared disaster, which the Colorado flood falls under. For assistance call SBA at (800) 827-5722.
  • Salvage yard: Sell your vehicle to a salvage yard. Call before visiting. If the yard is interested in your vehicle you'll receive a quote over the phone. By calling various yards, you'll be able to compare quotes and go with the yard that offers you the most cash.

How to Get Your Comprehensive Insurance to Cover Flood Damage

If you carry comprehensive auto coverage and your car sustained flood damage, here's what to do:

  1. Take pictures: Grab your camera and begin snapping photos of your car. Do this before contacting your car insurance agent. Don't limit yourself to one or two photos. The more visual evidence the better. Take pictures of the car's exterior from different angles. And the same with the interior, with close-ups of water line residue left on the doors or dashboard. And don't forget about photos of the engine and trunk.
  2. Contact your insurance agent: After snapping the photos, call your car insurance agent to make a claim. Due to the magnitude of the Colorado flood, chances are you're not the first to call. You will need to exercise patience. It might take days, if not weeks, for a claims adjustor to inspect your vehicle. All the more reason to arm yourself with photos.
  3. Make good use of your waiting period: Many Coloradans are making similar claims, so make the most of your time while you wait. Perhaps you'll want to replace your old vehicle, or maybe the damage isn't too extensive for an auto mechanic or body shop. Call around to local repair shops to see how backed up they are and begin strategizing your next move. That way when your claims adjustor gets back in touch with you, you can quickly act.

If your vehicle is deemed a total loss, the claims adjustor will instruct you to sign the title over to the car insurance company. You will then be issued a check based on the vehicle's current market value. If you plan to buy a replacement, beware. Unscrupulous sellers might try to pawn off flood-damaged vehicles on buyers. Be sure you order a vehicle history report to check the title history before inking a deal on a new or used vehicle.

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