If you’re one of the many unfortunate victims of Hurricane Sandy, you might be looking at a vehicle or two submerged in floodwater. The first thing to do is report it to your auto insurance carrier. Because of the huge numbers of calls to insurers, you might be faced with a wait, but persevere in order to make your initial claim. Be aware that if you don’t have comprehensive insurance, the damage to your vehicle won’t be covered. If you do have comprehensive coverage, you should be fully reimbursed for the damage to your automobile, or for its replacement.
If at all possible within the realm of safety, take pictures of your vehicle while it’s still submerged in water. If possible, get a shot of your license plate. Take preventative measures to prevent further damage, such as taping cardboard or plastic over broken windows.
If the engine compartment has been flooded, don’t attempt to start the vehicle once the water recedes. Check for moisture, condensation, silt and sand to determine the flood level, if you’re not sure how much of the car has been soaked. You can also remove the air filter and check it for moisture. If it’s wet or looks as if it’s been soaked, don’t try to start the car, as this can cause engine damage. Talk to your mechanic before attempting to start the vehicle.
If you don’t have comprehensive coverage and want to try to keep the vehicle, take it to a professional who’ll attempt to dry it out with high-powered fans. Seats and carpeting will need to be removed and replaced. Never attempt to use heating devices like space heaters to dry out your car, as this can result in a serious fire and a dangerous gas tank explosion. Leaving the windows open, letting it dry in the sun and using household fans won’t do the trick and you’ll be faced with mold, mildew and a variety of other problems. Be aware that even if you take your car to a professional, it might still have mold and mechanical problems.
If you’re looking to buy another set of wheels, be advised that a wave of flood damaged cars will soon unlawfully enter the market. Carefully inspect any used – and sometimes even new – vehicle for signs of flood damage after a major catastrophic storm such as Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, unscrupulous dealers and owners will be looking for unsuspecting buyers for these vehicles, which are hiding a plethora of costly problems under their hoods.