Steps To Follow If Your Car Is In A Flood
First and foremost, take as many pictures depicting the damage as necessary to show the extent of the water damage.
Second, whether you have comprehensive auto insurance or not, you need to take care of your vehicle. Aside from being just good common sense, if you have comprehensive coverage you likely have a duty to mitigate your damages. Here is a helpful list of things to do:
- Don’t try to start your car. This will cause more damage if there is water in the engine.
- Start drying out your vehicle as quickly as possible, and contact a towing service to get it back to higher ground. Oil, transmission fluid and lube may need draining before a tow.
- Look under the hood. This is where you’ll find clues as to how extensive the flood damage may be.
- Check the oil dipstick. Look for water droplets, which likely indicate that there is water in your engine. If that’s the case, the cylinders, which are supposed to compress air instead of water, will be broken. Remove water-damaged cylinders and check for corroded spots
- Change the oil and transmission fluid. You’ll want to do this again after the car is drivable and you’ve gone several hundred miles.
- Clean the interior. If floodwaters were more than a few feet deep, water probably made it to the inside of your car. Here’s what to do next:
- Remove all moisture. Use a wet/dry vacuum to collect standing water, and cloth towels to absorb water that has soaked into the seats and carpet. Remove seats and seat cushions if possible, and use fans and dehumidifiers to accelerate the drying process.
- Check the fuel tank and line. Use a store-bought siphon pump to remove some fuel. If you note any water (which would naturally separate from the fuel), you’ll want to empty the tank completely.
Third, if you have comprehensive coverage, you need to call your insurance company and file a claim. It is important to do this as quickly as possible for multiple reasons. First, you want your vehicle either repaired or replaced as quickly as possible. Second, your auto insurer owes you a duty of good faith and fair dealing, per LA R.S. 22:1892 and 22:1973. As such, your insurer generally has to adjust your auto claim within 14 days of being notified of the claim by you. If your insurer does not timely initiate an adjustment of your claim, it will be in bad faith.
Hopefully, your insurer will honor its duty to you and adjust your claim in good faith and you only need to take the above three steps.
However, as we know all too well in New Orleans, this is not often the case. If your insurer fails to timely begin adjustment of your claim or you feel that your claim is not being adjusted adequately you will need to take at least one more step: Contact the attorneys of Burgos and Associates.
We have experience dealing with insurance companies who do not want to honor their duties of good faith and fair dealing to you, their insureds and would be happy to represent you.