Some tips from the driving association AAA if you need to file an automotive insurance claim because of hurricane damage.
AAA Carolinas spokeswoman Tiffany Wright told South Carolina Radio Network the first thing you need to do is call your insurance company. “Then you want to take photographs of visible damage,” she said. “That’s important.”
Taking care of damage to your vehicle after the hurricane is one thing, but what if your car was washed away and you can’t find it? “You have cars that have floated all over the place and they are everywhere. So officials are out and may come across them,” Wright said. “I think the first thing you would want to do is notify the authorities.”
She said any vehicle sustaining flood damage should be fully inspected before being allowed back on the road. Mechanical components, computer systems, engine, transmission, axles, brake system and fuel system impacted by water contamination may render the vehicle unfit to drive. In many cases, vehicles sustaining significant water damage will be determined to be a total loss.
AAA said avoid buying a used car that went through a flood by doing your homework. Used-vehicle shoppers searching within a few hundred miles of the storm should be particularly wary, but savvy sellers will sometimes move damaged vehicles to unaffected states and re-title the vehicles before foisting them on unsuspecting buyers.
Flood damage can ruin a vehicle in any number of ways, from eating away the electronics wiring to seizing up mechanical systems, and the damage may not reveal itself for months or even years. Corrosion and rust are insidious, often eating away at sheet metal and components from the inside out.