What to do if your car’s been affected by flooding

If your car has been affected by a flood, it’s important to know what to do next in order to prevent any further damage and make the process of claiming on your car insurance as smooth as possible.

What you need to do

Flood water can be dirty, smelly, and can harbour dangerous diseases and infections.

If your vehicle has been submerged in flood water, you’ll need to take some important steps to make sure it’s roadworthy before you think about driving it:

  • Flood water can be contaminated and make you ill, so wear protective clothes if you are coming into contact with it, and wash thoroughly afterwards.
  • If your car has been stood in deep water, don’t try to start the engine, as there may be water trapped in the cylinders, which can cause damage.
  • It’s a simple fix for a mechanic, but don’t try to fix it yourself.
  • Check the dipstick for any water in your oil.
  • If you see any water droplets, you’ll need to get your oil and oil filter changed before you drive anywhere. If water got inside the passenger compartment, you need to clean and dry any wet upholstery. Again, it can pay to bring in a professional to thoroughly dry the interior so you don’t get problems with mildew later on.

Claiming on your insurance

Remember that your insurer is there to help:

  • Most insurers have a 24-hour emergency claims line. If possible, have your policy documents to hand.
  • Note down an accurate record of the flood damage, and, if you can, take photos.
  • Make a list of any possessions in the car that have been damaged and find any receipts, which can help make the claims process easier.

Keep a record of all contact with your insurer, including who you spoke to, when and what was agreed, and keep hold of any letters, emails and receipts for repair work.

Things to bear in mind about your flood claims

  • The insurer will consider things like the depth of the flood water and how contaminated it was when deciding whether your car will be repaired or written off.
  • If the car has to be scrapped, your insurer will pay out the value of the car, minus the agreed excess.
  • If your insurer decides your vehicle can be repaired, they are likely to select an approved nearby garage to do the work. Once the car is fixed, the insurer will pick up the bill, minus the excess.

What NOT to do if your car is flooded

If your car is submerged in water, do not try to start the engine. Not only could this invalidate your car insurance, it could cause more damage to the vehicle and even cause dangerous malfunctions like airbags going off without warning, or electrical fires.

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