Laura Berry is a former State Farm insurance producer and insurance expert.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • A basic auto insurance policy that includes only the minimum coverage requirements will not provide coverage against flood damage.
  • Flood damage is covered under a policy if that policy includes physical damage coverage
  • Comprehensive will pay for losses caused by firs, theft, vandalism, flood, falling objects, explosion, or collision with a live animal
  • In many cases, a vehicle that’s sustained significant water damage will automatically be declared as a total loss due to the potential for future problems
  • If you file a claim, you’re required to pay your comprehensive deductible before the insurance company will issue you a check for repairs or replacement
  • Insurance policies have special restrictions. If you live in an area prone to hurricanes, you’ll be restricted from adding comprehensive coverage to your policy as a hurricane approaches your region

Your car is no match for water. If you’re winterizing your home and preparing for the wet season, it’s important to review the terms and conditions of your insurance plan to see if you have protection at every turn. All throughout the country people fall victim to hurricanes, hail, and heavy rains that come with the changing seasons. Some of these victims have insurance to fall back on and others don’t. Compare car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool above!

Before a storm hits, you should review not just your home insurance, but also your auto insurance. If you want to protect your finances from the damage that can be caused at the hands of a flood you’ll need the appropriate coverage. Since the statistics show that 90 percent of all major disasters involve flooding, it’s important to learn how to build a policy that protects against both collisions and floods.

Basic Insurance Doesn’t Provide Protection Against Floods

If you selected a basic auto insurance policy that provides nothing more than what’s required by law in your state, you don’t have any protection in the event of a flood. Basic policies only provide the bare minimums without any type of physical damage coverage. The actual required limits vary by state. Coverage typically consists of the following:

  • Bodily Injury Liability
  • Property Damage Liability
  • Medical Payments/Personal Injury Protection (only required in some states)
  • Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (only required in some states)

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Policies Must Include Comprehensive Coverage for Flood Protection

If you live in an area that’s prone to hurricanes or other types of flooding, it’s important to learn how flooding is treating under a Personal Auto Policy contract. As with other forms of property insurance, flooding can be a complicated peril in the eyes of the insurer. Most auto policies do provide coverage as long as you carry comprehensive coverage. You’ll still need to check your policy provisions to see just how flooding is treated.

What does comprehensive coverage pay for?

Comprehensive coverage pays to repair damages that are caused after specific events occur. Collision pays after there’s a collision and comprehensive pays after a long list of other events. Here’s a breakdown of what comp protects you against:

  • Fire
  • Stolen car
  • Vandalism
  • Falling objects
  • Hail
  • Wind
  • Severe weather
  • Flood
  • Glass breakage
  • Collision with a live animal

What are the flood restrictions under comprehensive coverage?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 78 percent of policies have comprehensive coverage. This is because the coverage itself only costs around $10 to $12 per month.

Even though comprehensive coverage is affordable, it provides a great deal of coverage to policyholders who don’t want to get stuck paying for their own vehicle repairs after an unavoidable loss.

While several risks are protected under comp, the coverage comes with some restrictions. Restrictions for flood claims aren’t as strict as those you’ll find under your homeowners policy. One of the biggest restrictions is that you can’t add comprehensive coverage to your policy when the forecast shows a hurricane is approaching. This is referred to as a moratorium in the insurance marketplace. Check to see if there are other policy restrictions you should be aware of.

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Are there limits to how much your policy will pay to repair your flooded car?

Insurance companies don’t place a dollar limit on how much the policy will pay to repair a car for any type of claim. Instead of setting a fixed limit that’s valid through the entire policy term, the company will set the limit as the vehicle’s Actual Cash Value.

The Actual Cash Value, which is written as ACV on your policy, is the car’s fair market value. Unlike a replacement cost valuation, ACV valuation methods factor in how much a car has depreciated based on the mileage, age, and condition. Vehicles that retain more value can sustain more damage before the car is considered a write-off.

Is a car with flood damage always a total loss?

In the most basic scenario, a total loss occurs when the cost to restore a vehicle is higher than the vehicle’s ACV. Unfortunately, it’s possible for different rules to apply when your vehicle has water damage.

When water damage is severe, it’s very difficult to fully restore a vehicle.

Since it’s possible to miss areas that can rust, some states might require that any vehicle with a flood damage claim be totaled and issued a salvaged title. Other states will specifically list that the vehicle has sustained flood damage on the car’s title.

If you live in a state that doesn’t require salvage titles on flooded cars, it’s possible that your vehicle won’t be totaled just because you filed a claim. Check with the regulations and find out what steps you need to take following your claim.

Tips for Dealing with a Flooded Car

If your car has interior water damage or has been immersed in water, it’s important not to cause more damage. Mitigating the damage and finding a way to keep the repair costs as low as possible can help you avoid a total loss. Here are some tips on what to do if your car is in a flood:

  • Don’t try to start your car
  • See how high the water has reached. Get your water out, if possible, to prevent water level from rising above the bottom of the car doors
  • Call your insurance company as soon as you can to file a claim
  • Take your car to get it professionally dried out
  • Tow your vehicle to a preferred mechanic

It’s only recommended that you purchase coverage to protect against flood damage if your vehicle has a fair or high market value. Be sure to look into the ACV before adding any physical damage coverage. If the value justifies the cost, it’s time to price the cost of coverage through several insurers. Use an online comparison shopping tool to do a quick price comparison and then choose the carrier offering the best rate. Enter your zip code in our FREE tool below to start comparing car insurance rates now!