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flood damage

how to protect your car or file your claim

When you imagine all the dangers threatening your car, water's probably far down the list. But flood damage happens, and it can have a devastating impact.

While you can't prevent Mother Nature's tempests, you can follow these tips to help make sure you're prepared before and after a flood damages your car.

Add comprehensive coverage to your policy

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Unlike liability coverage, which is legally required in most states, comprehensive coverage is optional. But when facing certain natural disasters, like floods, comprehensive coverage can offer significant financial protection. Aside from covering things like glass damage, theft, and fire, comprehensive can also cover damage caused by hail, water, and floods in some cases. (And, depending on your state and your policy, comprehensive could also protect your finances from damage caused by earthquakes and hurricanes.)

If you're an Esurance customer and want to check your policy coverages, including your selected limits and deductibles, you can log into your policy or give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). If you're shopping for a policy that includes comprehensive, get a quote online.

Plan for your surroundings

Though comprehensive coverage may be able to help you deal with flood damage, one of the best ways to make sure your car stays nice and dry is to take preventive measures. If you live in an area known for hurricanes or torrential rainfall, be prepared: keep your windows, trunk, and sunroof tightly shut; outfit your garage with a water-resistant pump system; and park your car on high ground before the storm hits.

Filing a flood-damage claim

If your car's been damaged by a recent flood, file your claim as soon as you can. Esurance customers can file online or over the phone at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) anytime. A dedicated claims representative will walk you through the post-flood process to help you get back on the road.

The possibility of a total loss

After you file your water-damage claim, a claims adjuster may declare your car a total loss for various reasons. Exposure to salt water, for example, may not show immediate damage, but can lead to long-term deterioration of your car.

If your flood-damaged car is declared a total loss, your claims representative will walk you through your options during the settlement process.

flooding

After the flood: beware the salvage title

Even after a total loss is declared, some drivers choose to fix their vehicles. In these cases, the repaired ride must be issued a salvage title, a document stating that the car has been deemed a total loss.

Because of the added risk of insuring salvage-title cars, many insurers won't offer comprehensive coverage on salvaged cars, and if they do, they may charge inflated premiums to cover the added risk.

Depending on the extent of water damage involved, salvage titles may be required for cars that aren't declared total losses, too. If you find yourself in this position, call your insurance provider for a little expert guidance.

Flooding by the numbers

50

Number of states where flash floods can occur
(floodsmart.gov)

90

Percent of all natural disasters that involve flooding
(Insurance Information Institute)

20

Percent of flood claims that come from outside high-risk areas
(floodsmart.gov)

43

Number of major flood disasters in the U.S. in 2013
(Insurance Information Institute)

Which is to say, floods happen — even if you live outside a flood zone. To protect yourself from the financial fallout of a flooded vehicle, consider comprehensive coverage.

If you have any questions on flood damage and your car insurance, give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). We're here to help.

Related links

Comprehensive coverage
Learn more about the coverage that kicks in to help cover a flood-damaged car.

Claims information
Find out what to expect when you file your Esurance claim.

Driving during floods
Tips on safely navigating flooded roads.