This photo was taken by our Sales Manager. it’s clear that there are a LOT of flood damaged vehicles being towed from areas across Southwest Florida. I’ve blurred the image and I’m not revealing the location. I don’t want to encourage people to go out there. There’s a LOT more cars than you can see in the photo. In fact, our guy was motioned to keep moving when he slowed to take the picture. So what happens next for all these cars, trucks, and SUVs?
According to NBC News, “When a vehicle is submerged, it is subject to developing all sorts of issues, starting with mold. Body panels and other components can rust. Water can damage engines. And then there are all the electronic circuits that control everything from power windows to a car’s safety and infotainment systems. They can suffer intermittent or complete failures.”
Most of these cars will be “totaled” by the insurance company. The title will be converted to a ‘salvage title’. The vehicles will either be scrapped for recycling or be broken down for parts. Consumer Reports states “Totaled cars are typically sold at a salvage auction to junkyards and vehicle rebuilders. Reselling them to consumers may be legal if the flood damage is disclosed on the title. Those “salvage title” cars can’t be registered until necessary repairs are made and the vehicle is re-inspected by officials. Then the vehicle is given a “rebuilt” title, which allows it to be registered for consumer use.”
Flood Damaged Vehicle Scams
There is a scam that people outside of our area will need to watch for as flood damaged cars are purchased and cleaned up. They then take them out of state where the VIN is switched and the car is retitled with no indication it has been damaged. I’ve even heard reports that some of these vehicles may end up resold in Mexico. Where it’s a lot more difficult to search the title.
If your vehicle was submerged in any way, don’t assume that it’s going to be ok. It’s likely it is flood damaged even if the problems don’t show up immediately. Call your insurance company. If you want to retain ownership of your totaled vehicle, it is possible. According to Forbes, “If your vehicle is totaled, you may still be able to keep your car as an “owner retained salvage.” You will get a salvage title and will need to make it legally roadworthy based on your state if you want to drive it again. If the car passes a state inspection, the car will receive a rebuilt title.” Keep in mind, however, it may be difficult to get insurance on a vehicle with a rebuilt title. Follow the links in this paragraph for more info if this is something you might be interested in.
FEMA is another valuable resource.
This is what I found on their website: ” First, file a claim with your insurance company if you have comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive policies usually pay for storm-related damage to a car. Federal disaster assistance may help fill the gaps for those whose coverage does not pay for any or all storm-related damage costs.
If you are underinsured or not insured, apply for an SBA low-interest disaster-loan.
If you’re unable to receive help through insurance or SBA, you may qualify for assistance from FEMA through the Other Needs Assistance (ONA) program. Assistance is usually limited to one vehicle. If you have more than one vehicle and at least one of those is operational, FEMA will not award assistance without justification for the additional vehicle. If damage is cosmetic, it is ineligible for assistance from FEMA.
Only those who maintain at least liability insurance will be considered to receive federal disaster assistance to repair or replace their vehicles. Survivors who register must submit proof to FEMA that they maintain liability coverage to be considered for federal disaster assistance to repair or replace their cars.