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Does auto insurance cover water damage?

Provided you have comprehensive coverage as part of your auto insurance policy, this will help to compensate you in case of water damage to your car in certain situations – but that will very much depend on the exact circumstances.

For example, with comprehensive coverage, you will undoubtedly be covered if your vehicle is damaged by flooding, provided you did not buy the policy only when a rainstorm or hurricane was already on its way, because you might find your cover time restricted.

However, if you were negligent by leaving your car window open and a deluge occurs that damages the interior, that will not be covered.

Nor will a mechanical problem, such as a leak from the heating system, be compensated.

But any recompense will be entirely dependant on you having bought comprehensive cover, because damage from water or other hazards is only covered if you have comprehensive cover, which is optional. That’s because your basic, and probably compulsory, liability cover (depending on the state where you live) will not cover you for this.

However, if you have an auto loan, then your lender will probably make it a condition of the loan that you buy comprehensive cover, to safeguard their interests.

In the case of a massive downpour it is conceivable rain will enter your vehicle despite all windows and doors being closed. Faulty or damaged seals surrounding sunroofs, windows and doors can possibly allow in ingress of water if the storm is particularly bad.

In that event, if you can provide corroborating evidence from your local weather center of the severity of the rain, then your claim might just succeed.

However, the onus is on you to ensure your vehicle is maintained in good order.

So if your vehicle suffers damage because of a massive and unpredictable weather event, your comprehensive cover might just pay out.

But if water seeps into the car over a long period due to not being properly maintained, then your insurers are unlikely to agree a payment.

Sadly, if you have a legitimate claim for flood damage to your vehicle, your comprehensive policy is unlikely to cover equipment which is not permanently installed in the car – unless the policy specifically says these items are included.

These could include portable satellite navigation equipment or a camera you happened to have left in the car.

Comprehensive coverage comes with a deductible.

This is a sum of money you agree, when buying the insurance, to take care of yourself towards a claim with the insurers paying the rest.

One thing to bear in mind is at what point in time you buy your comprehensive cover.

Insurance companies are very alive to some folks only buying the policy when the hurricane season is in full swing or a big rainstorm is already on its way. For that reason, they have restrictions on paying claimants within a certain period of buying the policy.

Also bear in mind that comprehensive insurance invariably comes with a set limit that it will pay.

So, if water damage renders car a total wreck due to damage by water, comprehensive auto insurance will only pay to a level your insurers say is the depreciated value.

This can also be called “actual cash value”.

This can be very annoying for you. So if you feel the sum you are being offered is unfair, you might consider at least speaking to an attorney with experience in auto insurance. Then you can weigh up if it is worth challenging the offer, bearing in mind you’ll have to pay the attorney’s fee.

If you do have to file a claim for flood damage, bear in mind plenty of other folks in your area are likely doing the same, so it might take some time for your claim to be processed and repairs sanctioned. Be patient!

The damage a simple thing like water can do to your vehicle can be extremely maddening, but having the right type of comprehensive coverage can help ease the pain if your vehicle is damaged.

A good insurance broker will advise you about finding the best policy that best matches your circumstances.

You may also find some useful tips in our regular newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.

Published in Auto Insurance

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