Hurricane Sandy may have moved on, but the clean up and rebuilding is just beginning. Our hearts go out to those to have suffered loss and hardship from this superstorm. Here are some tips and resources for car owners faced with figuring out what to do with a flooded car or vehicle, including how to assess the damage done to your flood vehicle, how to dry out your car, how to go about contacting your insurance company and insurance contact information.
Tips on what to do with a flooded vehicle:
1) If your car was submerged in water for any period of time, do not try and start the car. Your car will likely turn over, even if the engine has water in it, but you will shoot that contaminated water throughout the engine, the transmission, the drive train, the fuel and brake systems, etc. which greatly increases the severity of the damage.
2) Determine how bad the damage was by how far the car was submerged in the flood waters and whether it was salt water or fresh. Hurricane Sandy affected such a wide spread area, that you may need to do a little research to find out what type of water flooded your area. Unfortunately, if your flooded car was submerged in salt water or was submerged enough to damage the electrical system, trying to fix it may be more trouble than its worth. Even if you get it working, over time the salt water will corrode the wires and connections.
3) If you choose to try and salvage your vehicle, the next step will be to thoroughly dry out your car as quickly as possible. Don’t wait for the adjuster to come out. If you are concerned about the insurance company seeing the extent of the damage, record the damage by taking good pictures , but then start the clean up process. The longer water remains in your car, the greater the damage for rust, mold and worse.
- Disconnect the battery ground strap immediately to prevent further damage to your car components or accidental frying.
- Drain the flood water from any of the parts and systems which have been affected and flush with clean water or the appropriate solvent.
- Drain fluids and oil and replace with fresh oil and fluids.
- Dry and clean the electrical system and components.
- Dry out the interior of the car, including the seats and upholstery as quickly as possible using vacuum extraction, whether through a carpet cleaner or a wet/dry vac. Get as much moisture out of the seats and upholstery as possible to avoid long term staining and a permanent musty smell. Baking soda can be sprinkled around and once everything is dry to help get that musty smell out.
4) Get your car looked at by a mechanic as soon as possible to get an estimate and make sure you are not causing further damage by driving the car with compromised parts and components. For instance, wheel bearings are often affected by flood waters and driving on wheel bearings that need to be repacked and repaired will cause more damage to your car.
5) Although most mechanic shops can assess the damage done and give you an estimate, if you feel the damage was not severe enough to warrant totaling the car or possibly having it labeled as a salvage car if the insurance does fix it, go to a mechanic that specializes in repairing flood damaged cars. By getting an evaluation from a mechanic with experience with flood damage vehicles, you can get a better idea of what repairs you are facing and provide your insurance company with a good estimate for repair.
Contacting Your Insurance Company to File a Claim:
If your car suffered damage which is beyond repair, which is likely if your car was fully submerged or was flooded by salt water, contact your insurance company as soon as possible to get an adjuster out to evaluate your flooded car.
For your convenience, here is a list of some of the major insurance companies contact information, as well as a number to call if your insurance company is not listed here.
- Allstate Insurance: Call 800-547-8676 or visit their website at www.allstate.com
- FEMA: Call (800) 621-3362 or visit their website at www.fema.gov for government assistance.
- GEICO: Call 800-841-3000 or contact them via their website at www.geico.com
- Liberty Mutual Group: Call 800-225-2467 or visit them online at www.libertymutual.com
- Nationwide Insurance: Call 800-421-3535 or contact them online at www.nationwide.com
- Progressive Insurance Group: Call 800-274-4499 or visit their website www.personal.progressive.com
- State Farm Insurance: Call 800-732-5246 or contact them on their website www.statefarm.com
- Other Insurance Companies: If your insurance company is not listed here, you can call Flood Smart at 888-379-9531 or visit their website at www.floodsmart.gov. Floodsmart can look up the information you need based on your name and zip code.
Donate a Flood Vehicle or Salvage Car to Charity
If you would like to donate a car with flood damage, Donate a Car 2 Charity has extra staff on hand to take care of the increased volume of vehicle donations as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Give us a call and we will work with you to get your flood vehicle or salvage car picked up free of charge. We will also provide you with a car donation tax deduction receipt in return for your donation regardless of the condition of your vehicle. And, as a special thank you for your vehicle donation, we also provide you with a free hotel voucher!
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