Comprehensive coverage will generally pay for damage to an insured car that’s been in a flood. However, when flood-damaged vehicles are not repairable, many states issue a “salvage” title or a new title that specifies the car has been in a flood.
Before you purchase a used car, it’s important to run the vehicle identification number (VIN) through a database to see its vehicle history.
- CarFax is a popular service, which starts at $40 for one report. CarFax also has a free tool to check solely for flood damage.
- The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has a free search called VINCheck that shows if a vehicle has been reported stolen or with a salvage title from any of these insurers.
- The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System has links to services where consumers can pay for a search of a vehicle’s history.
- Check for mud or grit in the spare tire compartment, alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses, around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.
- Check inside the seatbelt retractors by pulling the seatbelt all the way out and inspect for moisture, mildew or grime.
- Check door speakers as they will often be damaged due to flooding.
- Inspect the vehicle for water stains, mildew, sand or silt under the carpets, floor mats, headliner cloth and behind the dashboard.