Did your car flood? Here’s how to file an insurance claim

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A resident of a mobile home park, located near the intersection of Illinois 159 and 161 in Swansea, looks out their front door to a flooded Wolf Branch creek Tuesday.

A resident of a mobile home park, located near the intersection of Illinois 159 and 161 in Swansea, looks out their front door to a flooded Wolf Branch creek Tuesday.

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As residents of southwest Illinois and the greater St. Louis area try to navigate flood losses, some may look to file insurance claims for automobile damage.

Comprehensive coverage isn’t always required, but if you have that type of plan, it may cover repairs or replacement of your vehicle after your deductible has been met.

Limits may apply to how much insurance companies will give you for repairs or replacement.

Water damage may be covered if your car is stuck in floodwater or if driving through water causes damage to your vehicle. Other types of storm damage may also be covered, such as damage from fallen tree limbs or hail, according to Progressive’s website.

Insurance plans typically do not cover after-market electronics, including GPS devices, stereos or anything else the owner installed.

You should review your policy or contact your insurer for the specifics of your coverage.

How can you file an insurance claim for flood-related car damage?

The first thing to do is to take pictures and video of your car submerged in water and try to show the water level. The water level can make a difference in whether an insurance company determines your car is totaled, according to car media site Motortrend.

Once you’ve documented the damage if possible, you can begin the claim process. Most large insurance companies offer online claim systems along with apps, where you can report damage or place your claim over the phone.

It’s best to submit your claim as early as possible and take detailed notes throughout the process, Motortrend says. While mechanics examine your car and your insurance company immediately investigates the claim, check for any damage that may not have been visible.

The claim process will vary by insurance company, but here’s what the process looks like according to Progressive:

  1. Review your policy to see what your deductible is and how long you have to submit a claim.
  2. Submit the claim online, through the app (if available) or by phone. You can contact a representative with any questions, and you may work with an estimator who will inspect your vehicle.
  3. Inspection and repair options: If it’s possible to repair your car, you can get an estimate and either repair the vehicle or receive payment in the amount the repairs would cost.
  4. If it’s determined your vehicle is a total loss, the insurance company should issue payment equal to your car’s value before the flood after your deductible is met.

This story was originally published July 27, 2022 1:39 PM.

Meredith Howard is a service journalist with the Belleville News-Democrat. She is a Baylor University graduate and has previously freelanced with the Illinois Times and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

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