Does Car Insurance Cover Flood Damage?
It may or may not – but don’t wait until the next downpour to find out.
Water can do serious damage to your vehicle, whether it’s in the form of rain, snow, hail, ice or a flash flood. Salt water can be especially harmful, corroding the vehicle’s body, mechanical parts and electrical system.1
You may assume that your auto insurance will pay for repairs due to water damage, but if you only have liability coverage, you could be in for a surprise. An automobile policy with only liability coverage does not offer any physical damage coverage to your vehicle. Therefore, water damage isn’t covered by a liability-only policy. Instead, you’d need comprehensive coverage, also known as other-than-collision coverage, on your auto insurance policy. With most insurance carriers, you can elect to have comprehensive coverage, while still skipping collision coverage, should that be the best option for your insurance needs.
While almost every state requires vehicle owners to carry liability coverage, the decision to buy or skip comprehensive coverage is up to you, unless your vehicle is leased or financed and your lender requires you to carry comprehensive coverage on your policy.
What does comprehensive coverage cover?
Comprehensive coverage provides coverage for loss or damage to your vehicle except by collision. This includes theft of the vehicle, fire, vandalism, breakage of glass, falling objects, and water or flood.
If all you have is a policy with liability coverage, adding comprehensive coverage can be a smart move – especially if you live in a flood- or storm-prone area, where the risk of water damage is significant. But before you update your policy, consider the following:
Water damage to contents in your vehicle isn’t covered.
Comprehensive protection applies only to vehicle damage, not to the vehicle’s contents, such as personal belongings in your vehicle. Homeowners or renters insurance may provide coverage for your belongings if damaged by water in a covered claim. If your personal belongings were damaged in your vehicle, let your adjuster know and they can assist you in filing a homeowners claim and evaluate what would be covered under which policy.
Water damage due to an intentional act isn’t covered.
Comprehensive insurance will only cover losses that are beyond your control, such as flooding from a hurricane. In other words, your claim will probably be denied if you intentionally drove your vehicle through deep water in order to cause damage to it.
Damage due to wear and tear isn’t covered.
Wear-and-tear-related losses are not covered on your auto policy. It’s your responsibility to keep your vehicle in good condition and make sure proper repairs are made when needed. Other maintenance issues like freezing, mechanical or electrical breakdown or failure, or road damage to tires are also excluded.
If a sudden rainstorm or flood were to happen and water damage were to occur from a singular storm, comprehensive coverage may help cover the damage. It can be possible for water to get into your car even if windows and doors are closed and all maintenance steps are taken.
In some cases, comprehensive coverage may not make financial sense.
You can reduce your premium by choosing a higher comprehensive coverage deductible – but doing so means you’ll pay more out of pocket in the event of a claim. If your vehicle no longer holds a high value or is more than 10 years old, the combined cost of higher premiums and non-covered repairs may be more than your vehicle is worth. To determine if comprehensive coverage financially makes sense for you, you can explore questions such as:
- What is the actual cash value of my vehicle?
- If my vehicle is a total loss, will I look to purchase a new vehicle or repair the damage?
- How much will comprehensive coverage cost?
- What is the likelihood of having to file a comprehensive claim?