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How to Know if a Vehicle Has Flood Damage

In late 2017, Texas and Florida experienced devastating hurricanes and flooding. Many homes and businesses were affected by these natural disasters, and got us thinking: “What happens to vehicles that have been flooded?” and “How do you know whether one has been?”

Unfortunately, natural disasters give criminals an opportunity to sell flooded vehicles to unsuspecting customers. We sat down with Harold Singh, Material Damage Claims Quality Control manager, to talk about what to keep an eye out for if you’re in the market for a used vehicle.

Question: What’s the easiest way to find out if a vehicle has flood damage?

Answer: There is no easy way. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), there are some dishonest auto dealers who purchase vehicles (new and used) from flooded areas, clean them up and try to resell them with the flood damage illegally hidden. You can check to see a vehicles history on the NICB’s VINCheck web site. It’s free and you can search to see if the vehicle has been involved in a claim related to flood damage.

CARFAX also offers a free flood damage check that you can do online.

Question: What other ways can you make sure that a vehicle isn’t damaged by water or flooding?

Answer: Make sure you’re purchasing the vehicle from a reputable car dealer. You can also request that a certified mechanic inspect the vehicle and specifically look for water damage. Flood-damaged vehicles can show up from anywhere in the country. Some signs are not visible, such as corroded airbag connections. It’s important to do your homework before making a purchase.

There are many online resources to help you get the facts and reports before you purchase a vehicle. A little extra work up front could save you time and money in the long run. If you have any doubts about safety of a car, it’s probably best to walk away.

As always, make sure to check in with your ERIE Agent when you purchase a new (or new to you) vehicle.

ERIE® insurance products and services are provided by one or more of the following insurers: Erie Insurance Exchange, Erie Insurance Company, Erie Insurance Property & Casualty Company, Flagship City Insurance Company and Erie Family Life Insurance Company (home offices: Erie, Pennsylvania) or Erie Insurance Company of New York (home office: Rochester, New York).  The companies within the Erie Insurance Group are not licensed to operate in all states. Refer to the company licensure and states of operation information.

The insurance products and rates, if applicable, described in this blog are in effect as of July 2022 and may be changed at any time. 

Insurance products are subject to terms, conditions and exclusions not described in this blog. The policy contains the specific details of the coverages, terms, conditions and exclusions. 

The insurance products and services described in this blog are not offered in all states.  ERIE life insurance and annuity products are not available in New York.  ERIE Medicare supplement products are not available in the District of Columbia or New York.  ERIE long term care products are not available in the District of Columbia and New York. 

Eligibility will be determined at the time of application based upon applicable underwriting guidelines and rules in effect at that time.

Your ERIE agent can offer you practical guidance and answer questions you may have before you buy.