Florida has been battered by many powerful hurricanes over the years, but Hurricane Irma was a particularly devastating storm, causing anywhere from $50 billion to $200 billion in damage to public property and even Florida’s infrastructure. Worse yet, many Floridians emerged from their shelters or returned to their homes to find that the vehicles they left behind had been battered or flooded by the storm. Some may be wondering if their auto insurance policy will pay for the damages, while others may worry about unknowingly replacing their totaled vehicle with another flood-damaged used car.

Let us help answer your storm-related questions. Here’s what you need to know if your vehicle was damaged by Hurricane Irma.

Will my auto insurance cover the damages? 

  • Liability insurance, which is typically the minimum coverage required by state law, will NOT cover hurricane damage.
  • If you have a comprehensive policy, you MAY be covered. Though natural disasters are included under this kind of policy, the cost of the damage must exceed the deductible to make filing a claim worth your time and effort.
  • The damage done by Irma can’t be undone, but if you do want to upgrade your policy to comprehensive coverage, don’t wait until the next disaster is imminent! Most insurance companies have temporary binding restrictions that will prevent you from obtaining comprehensive coverage once a storm warning has been issued.

How do I file an insurance claim? 

  • When you first assess your car’s damage, be sure to take plenty of pictures for your claim. Adequate high-definition photos can be beneficial and sometimes even downright necessary.
  • Prevent further damage (which could result in denial of your claim) by covering broken windows or covering the whole vehicle with a tarp. Resist the urge to start your car to see if it still works; this may further damage the engine and could lead to a nasty shock from the waterlogged electrical system.
  • Contact your auto insurance agent. They will likely request the photos you took and will let you know if there’s anything else you need to do. Typically, car owners have a much easier time going through the post-storm insurance claim process than homeowners, but there is a lot of variance in results.

What can I do with a damaged vehicle that isn’t covered by my insurance policy? 

  • If your car is still drivable, have it checked out by a qualified mechanic, and promptly replace any damaged parts. You should also have it professionally cleaned and dried to prevent mold growth in the vehicle’s interior. Our Central Florida Honda Dealers offer a wide variety of auto repair services, so be sure and contact your nearby dealership to schedule a professional inspection.
  • If your vehicle is totaled, you may qualify for government assistance through FEMA, or you might be able to obtain a Disaster Loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • Your car may be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy if it was parked at your home at the time of the storm. Home insurance has different sets of qualifiers when it comes to storm damage, so review your policy for more details, or simply ask your agent.
  • You can sell your totaled vehicle to a salvage lot. Although you’re unlikely to get much money for the sale, the extra cash can come in handy when upgrading to a new or used car, and the salvage company will normally remove your vehicle at no cost to you. 

How can I be sure my replacement car isn’t also flood-damaged? 

  • Though a lot of flood-damaged cars end up back in the resale market, it’s easier than ever to research a vehicle’s history. You can check CARFAX for a vast database of information that covers all used cars and light trucks (older than 1982).
  • Get a thorough inspection. A trained eye can spot signs of water damage that may go unnoticed by a prospective car buyer. Though this service costs a little extra, it can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars down the road.
  • Use your senses. Does the car have a funky smell? When you pull back the carpet, do you see water stains? Check the headlights and taillights to see if water has collected inside. These are all signs of having been submerged.
  • When you take it for a test drive, be sure to try the power windows and stereo to see if the electrical system is working properly. Malfunctioning electronics can be a sign of a flood-damaged car, and they’re usually easy to spot.

Where can I find used cars in Florida?

Even though our Central Florida Honda Dealers locations are still recovering from the hurricane, we have a variety of used cars for sale that aren’t damaged in the slightest. Simply find your closest Honda dealership to browse our selection of used vehicles and certified pre-owned Honda models, and we’ll gladly help you make nice with a non-salvaged ride. And if your vehicle needs repairs, service, or an inspection for damage due to Irma, we can certainly help, too!

Locate your nearby Central Florida Honda Dealers showroom or service center online, and let us help you rebuild after this catastrophic hurricane season. We also have numerous new Honda offers and used car specials available.