Does auto insurance cover water damage?

If your car experienced flood damage, you may be wondering if auto insurance covers water damage. If you have comprehensive coverage included in your car insurance policy, your car water damage will likely be covered. You can file a car water damage claim. Your insurance company may need to determine if the damage was avoidable or unavoidable before offering a payout.

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For over 20 years personal injury lawyer, Stewart J. Guss has represented clients from all over the world in the most serious and catastrophic injury claims. Since starting his own firm in 1999, he has gained national recognition and expanded his reach, now operating several offices across four states and employing hundreds of dedicated legal professionals.  Stewart grew up in Houston, Texas, ...

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UPDATED: Sep 24, 2021

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Overview

  • Car water damage may be covered by your comprehensive car insurance coverage
  • You will need to file an insurance claim and your insurance company will assess your car’s damage 
  • If your car insurance company determines there was negligence on your part, your car water damage might not be covered

Your phone buzzes on your nightstand. A flash flood alert illuminates the screen. Suddenly, overnight, your street is swamped. 

When you wake in the morning, your car is standing in inches of water that has risen past the tires and crept into the cabin.

Amidst all the chaos and concerns, one question rings clearly in your mind: ”Does auto insurance cover water damage?” The short answer is that it can depend on your insurance policy.

When discussing auto insurance coverage of any kind, keep in mind an insurance policy is a contract between you and the insurance company as to what type of losses they will cover for you. You can add different types of coverage depending on your needs.

Before you dig in, you can use our free tool to compare car insurance rates in your area. Just enter your ZIP code for free quotes from top companies on car insurance that covers water damage.

Now, when it comes to auto insurance, basic liability coverage won’t help with water damage, but comprehensive coverage might. Let’s take a closer look.

Does comprehensive coverage include water damage?

Comprehensive auto insurance coverage is typically available for purchase to beef up your bare-bones car insurance policy. It includes coverage for vandalism, theft, flood damage, lightning, and hail. It’s sometimes combined with collision coverage. You may hear it referred to as full coverage car insurance

Furthermore, comprehensive coverage only covers the vehicle itself, not any possessions you might’ve left inside.

If you lease your car or have an auto loan, you may be in a group that is required to carry comprehensive insurance coverage.

But when does full coverage insurance cover water damage? There are some details that will be taken into consideration for your claim.

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 The Blame Game: “Avoidable” vs. “Unavoidable” Water Damage

When you reach out to file a water damage car insurance claim, your insurance company will assess the damage and decide whether it was caused by a natural disaster (unavoidable) or by human error (avoidable.)

Comprehensive coverage will cover water damage to your car if and only if it was directly caused by severe weather, such as flood water getting into your engine or hail breaking a window. These scenarios are considered unavoidable.

However, it won’t help with mistakes like leaving your sunroof open during a thunderstorm, as that’s considered avoidable.

Beware: sometimes heavy rain can get into your car even if the windows are up! Flaws in the seals around your windows and doors may result in leaks — but the insurance company won’t be eager to help you out. They may decide it was your responsibility to repair the seal. This will fall under their “negligence or lack of maintenance” exceptions to coverage.

Additionally, comprehensive coverage has a deductible you must meet, so you might still end up paying out of pocket for a portion of the damage. Comprehensive coverage also has limits. 

If your rental car got damaged in a flood, you might get stuck with the bill depending on the terms of the contract and how the damages happened.

So does car insurance cover flood damage? Yes, with some caveats, if you’ve got the right policy.

Filing a Water Damage Auto Insurance Claim

If your coverage allows it, never hesitate to file a water damage car insurance claim. 

Underlying issues like mold and rust can create serious hazards if left untreated. If you experience car water damage, you want to make sure you get it taken care of as soon as possible.

Remember to take plenty of photos and videos of your flooded car, the damage, and the weather conditions, if possible. Submit this evidence to your insurance company after calling and opening your claim for car flood damage. You should be provided with a personalized claim number.

Luckily, car insurance premiums usually don’t go up after a comprehensive claim.

What happens after you file an auto water damage claim? 

Once you notify your insurance provider, they will send an appraiser out to look at your vehicle and possibly tow it. 

Next, they will assess the cost of the damages. If they decide your policy covers the water damage in the car, you will only have to pay your deductible, and you will be sent a check for the remainder of the repair costs.

Note: If many drivers in your region were affected by bad weather and are also filing insurance claims, this could slow down the process. Be patient!

Often, however, insurance companies are combative and just plain stubborn. They don’t want to hand over the money you need, even if you’ve been a loyal customer. They might even try to blame you or argue that you should’ve known to park the car on higher ground!

If your car insurance claim is denied, you can appeal it if you believe the reason is not justified. If you need help fighting a car insurance company and getting the settlement money you deserve, a car accident attorney can be a valuable ally.

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What if the car is a total loss? 

Your car may be declared a total loss by the insurance company if it’s impossible to repair it or if the estimated cost to repair it exceeds the current market value of the car itself.

Certain states and certain insurance companies have specific guidelines and damage thresholds for total loss declarations.

After the insurance company declares a vehicle a total loss, you’ll get a payout equal to what the car was worth before the accident (sans your deductible, of course.) You can put this money towards your new ride.

How to Protect Your Car from Water Damage

Did you know floods are the most frequent natural disaster in America? Aside from buying the right insurance policy with car flood insurance coverage, what can you do to protect your vehicle from water damage? Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure all doors, windows, and sunroofs are properly shut every time you get out of your vehicle.
  • Do not park near trees or other objects that could fall during a storm. 
  • Move your car to higher ground if a flood is coming. 
  • Park under a covering if hail is expected. 
  • When parking in a parking garage, choose the higher levels. 
  • Disconnect the car battery. This helps protect electrical components in case the car gets submerged.

If you’re trying to navigate flooded streets, don’t risk it! Remember the National Weather Service (NWS) motto: “Turn around; don’t drown!” From thick fog to icy roads, there are numerous ways bad weather causes car accidents.

Know Your Policy, Know Your Rights

So does car insurance cover water damage? Yes, if you have the appropriate policy.

In general, a comprehensive personal auto insurance policy will cover flood damage. However, there may be exceptions if the damage was caused by someone’s negligence (for example, if you left a window open when going through a car wash.)

Basically, comprehensive car insurance exists to help with any damage beyond your control.

Many people believe they have “full coverage,” but there’s actually no standard definition of this term. Different insurance companies may have different limits or stipulations within their full coverage packages. Keep this in mind and look closely when choosing between big names like State Farm or GEICO auto insurance. Water damage can happen when you least expect it! 

Still confused? If you need more help deciphering the fine print of your car insurance policy, a car accident lawyer can steer you in the right direction.

Now it’s time to shop for a car insurance policy to make sure you are covered for damage that can happen to your car. Enter your ZIP code into our free tool to compare policies and find the best one for you.

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