Does Car Insurance Cover Water and Flood Damage?

Water damage can devastate your car. But does your insurer cover it? We'll tell you which types of water damage your car insurance will cover.
Car submerged in flood water

Water damage is expensive and can render your car undrivable. The damages could also make your car a total loss. It can happen randomly, especially if you live in an area that has frequent floods. Fortunately, your car insurance might be able to help cover the costs. Comprehensive coverage is a type of insurance that protects you from random events like floods and natural disasters.

Your comprehensive insurance won’t always come in to save the day. If it’s your fault that the car has water damage, your insurance provider won’t cover the costs. Insurance companies or attorneys might also refer to this as negligence on your part. This isn’t always the case. But if it is, your insurance can’t help you.

This article will break down the different kinds of water damage-causing events, and which ones your insurance will cover. You’ll also learn about what to do if the water damage causes your car to be a total loss. Finally, we’ll explain how to file a water damage claim and other types of coverages that you might find useful during a flood.

When Your Insurance Will Cover Water Damage

When your car has water damage, floods are probably the first thing to pop into your head. But there are plenty of other reasons why your car could have water damage. Your comprehensive insurance should be able to cover most causes. Below are some of the most common causes for water damage that your car insurance will cover:

  • Floods. This is one of the most common reasons for water damage. Hurricanes and intense rain can cause urban flooding and rising water levels on the road. Floods can ruin your car’s interior or engine.
  • Leaks. Heavy rain can cause leaks to occur in your car. This can cause serious damage to the interior of your car.
  • Hailstorms. Hailstorms are a major reason for windshield damage. They can also shatter your windshield, causing rain to flood your car. Your comprehensive insurance can help cover the expenses from this.
  • Vandalism. If someone broke your windows, causing water damage, your comprehensive insurance should cover this. Comprehensive would cover both your windows and the water damage. Keep in mind that you may have to file two claims – one for the water damage and the other for the windows.

The similarity between all of the above is that they aren’t your fault. Comprehensive will generally protect you from water damage that you didn’t cause.

What Your Insurance Won’t Cover

There are some occasions where your car insurance won’t cover water damage. This is mainly where you’re at fault for the damages. Here are the common situations where you’ll have to pay for the damages in full:

  • You left the windows open
  • You accidentally drove your car into a body of water.
  • Poor car maintenance. For example, not addressing windshield or window damage, resulting in water leaks.

What Happens If Your Car Is a Total Loss

Flood and water damage can often be so severe that it will total your car. A total loss means that the repairs will cost more than what your car is worth. It’s common for floods to cause water to get into your engine and cause irreparable damage.

Water damage can also spread to your car’s interior and ruin it. This is especially common in newer cars, where high-tech electronics are susceptible to damage. It’s best to prepare yourself for your car being a total loss if it has been in a flood or has major water damage.

What To Do If Water Damage Totals Your Car

This is a tough situation to be in. You only have a couple options:

  • Keep the car. You can always spend the money and repair your car back to drivable status. You’ll need to get a rebuilt title to legally drive it again. Repairs could cost a lot and your insurance will likely be more expensive.
  • Get a new car. This is probably the path that most people will take. If your car is a total loss, it might be best to just cut your losses and buy a new car.

After your insurer determines your car to be a total loss, you’ll receive a payout. The payout will be equal to the actual cash value of your car (ACV).  

Something else to keep in mind is that you might still have a loan on your totaled car. You’re still responsible for paying this off. Gap insurance will help you in this case. It will pay the gap between your car’s actual cash value (ACV) and the balance of your loan.

How to File a Claim

If your car has water damage, you’ll want to file a claim with your provider. Filing a claim is fairly simple. Here are some tips you should consider if you go to file a claim:

  • Be sure to document any property damage if you can. The best way to do this is with photos and videos so that your insurer can see all the damage.
  • Get the contact information of your insurance adjuster. This way you can ask questions, such as for an estimate of your payout.
  • Understand that factors like your car’s make and model, age, mileage, and damage extent and type will affect how much you’ll receive in a payout.

Be sure to speak with your agent if you have any questions about filing a water damage claim. They’ll help you make sure that you’re doing everything correctly. This way you’ll receive the correct payout.

Other Helpful Types of Insurance for Floods

Comprehensive coverage will cover damages after a flood or leak. But there are other types of insurance that you might want if your car ends up in a flood. Here are a couple of types of insurance that you should consider having so that you don’t have to worry during a flood:

Rental Car Coverage

You’ll want to think about buying rental car insurance if you’re renting a vehicle. This type of insurance will cover damages to your rental car. Floods and other random destructive events can happen unexpectedly, so this type of coverage is usually a good idea.

Your personal auto insurance policy may also include coverage for rental cars. Before buying rental insurance, make sure to check with your provider to see if your policy carries over to rental cars.

Roadside Assistance

This type of coverage is helpful if you find yourself stuck in a flood or are unable to drive. It’ll cover the expenses if you need roadside assistance or towing service. If you don’t have this and you’re stuck on the side of the road, you’ll end up paying for the service in full.

Roadside and towing services could cost hundreds of dollars. The cost will depend on what kind of service you need. Ask your agent or get a quote to find out how much adding this coverage costs.

Will a Water Damage Claim Raise Your Rates?

This is a common question that people ask before they file a claim. The answer is simple: it depends. You shouldn’t expect your rates to rise much or even at all after filing one water damage claim. It wasn’t your fault, after all.

You should expect your rates to go up if you have a track record of insurance claims. It’s a good idea to speak with your provider or agent to find out if filing a claim will affect your rates.

Is It Worth It to File a Claim?

Flood and water damage will typically cost way more to repair out of pocket than something like your windshield. It may not be a good option to pay for the repairs yourself. This is especially true if your car is a total loss. Filing an insurance claim will get you a payout and cover repair costs. With water damage, it’s generally worth it to file a claim.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does insurance cover damage to my car from a flood?

A:  Yes, it does. Your comprehensive coverage will pay for expenses after your car has been in a flood. Comprehensive won’t cover water damage to your car if it was your fault. For example, driving into a flood zone that your city has warned you not to go in would cause your insurance to not cover you. Driving your car into a body of water when you could have avoided it also puts you at fault.

Q: Does flood damage total a car?

A: Flood damage can total a car. Water can get into your car’s engine or interior. This could cause some serious damage that may total your car.

Your car would still cover your car if it’s a total loss. You would receive a cash payout that’s equal to your car’s actual cash value. Then it’ll be up to you to pay off any loans (if you have them) and decide whether or not you want to keep the car. Cars with flood or water damage are often difficult to repair back to roadworthy status because of how significant the damage can be.

Q: Will my insurance cover water damage from leaving the window open?

A: Unfortunately, your insurance won’t cover any damages that were your fault. Leaving the window open falls under this category for insurance companies. In this case, you’ll have to pay for the repairs in full.

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