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In the aftermath of a flood, the sheer amount of damage and destruction becomes apparent. When a flood arrives, most people focus on helping family, friends, pets and strangers to safety. But after the dust settles (or water, in this case), communities have no choice but to pick up the pieces of their former lives. This includes assessing damages to property and submitting insurance claims.

Experts estimate that flooding from Hurricane Harvey alone may have damaged at least half a million vehicles—causing almost $5 billion in damage. Does auto insurance cover flood damage to vehicles? The short answer: It depends on the policy. Learn more with CoverHound and compare car insurance rates today to find the right coverage for your needs.

Understanding Levels of Auto Coverage
Most states require drivers to take out mandatory liability coverage in case they cause injury or property damage to someone else. But having this base level of auto insurance will not protect a vehicle in the event of a flood or other natural disaster. Even optional collision insurance (which covers damage to your vehicle if you’re at fault for an accident) will not warrant financial compensation in the event of flooding. Only optional comprehensive coverage can do that.

As the Insurance Information Institute writes, comprehensive auto insurance “provides coverage against theft and damage caused by an incident other than a collision, such as fire, flood, vandalism, hail, failing rocks or trees and other hazards—even getting hit by an asteroid!” Having this policy in place before a natural disaster means you have legitimate grounds to submit a claim for either the amount of a replacement car or repair of your damaged one, depending on your policy and the extent of the wreckage.

Be patient as you’re waiting on a post-flood payout; insurers receive a huge influx of calls and claims in the aftermath of a storm, so it could take weeks or months to get sorted out.

How to Handle a Flooded Vehicle
If you ever find your vehicle has been flooded—whether it’s caught in a flash flood or submerged during a storm surge—you should salvage what you can if it’s safe to do so. Although your first instinct may be to check if the car still runs, it’s important you do not start the car; this will just amplify any damage to the powertrain.

As you assess damage (taking all safety precautions), make sure that you take photographs and video to back up your claim. Contact your agent to see if your provider has a response team nearby for an inspection. When you make your claim, ask for an estimate on both the payout and the timeline so you can stay in the loop throughout. And remember, thousands of other vehicle owners are doing the same, so it you may face frustrating delays.

Your auto insurance policy will cover your flooded vehicle if it includes comprehensive coverage; it will not if it includes only liability or collision coverage. Need to re-evaluate your car insurance plan? Compare car insurance rates and options with CoverHound today!

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