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Does car insurance cover flood damage?

Unfortunately, there’s rarely a year that passes without majoring flooding somewhere around the UK. While the most significant damage is generally done to people’s homes, cars often also fall victim to the water – and many are so badly damaged they have to be written off by insurers.

With flood damage seeming to be more common, we get a lot of questions about how car insurance works with flooding, including:

  • Will car insurance cover flood damage?
  • Does car insurance cover water damage to your car’s engine?
  • Can you insure a flood-damaged car?

Here, we’ll explore everything there is to know about car insurance and flood damage.

Will car insurance cover flood damage?

Like many topics that relate to insurance claims, there’s no simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer when it comes to flood damage being covered by car insurance.

Instead, like most claims, you’ll find that the circumstances surrounding the flood damage will be looked into – and any claim will be based on what’s happened specifically.

Firstly, it’s important to note that only comprehensive insurance covers flood damage – and that’s because of the way that insurance companies categorise claims. 

As far as an insurer is concerned, claims fall into one of two brackets – ‘at-fault’ and ‘non-fault’. An incident is considered a non-fault claim when another person is to blame – and, as a result, your insurer reclaims any repair costs from their insurer. Unfortunately, any instance where repair costs cannot be reclaimed is generally considered an at-fault claim – simply because there’s no way of recouping the money required to put your car right. As such, third party, and third party, fire and theft policies will not cover you for water damage.

Check for exclusions

So, if you’ve got fully comprehensive cover, then you’re protected against water and flood damage then?
Again, it’s still not that simple.

You may have heard about ‘Acts of God’ in relation to insurance. It’s the term that’s traditionally been used to describe any unforeseen and naturally occurring incident that’s led to your property being damaged. In the past, it was often thought of as a way the insurers avoided paying out – but in actual fact, as long as you have fully comprehensive cover, you’ll find events like these are considered unavoidable – so you’ll often be covered.

It’s important that you check though – because since insurers moved away from using the term Act of God – they’ve become more specific about what kind of incidents they don’t provide cover for. If you’re worried about flooding – check your policy paperwork carefully and don’t be afraid to ask if flooding is excluded from the events you can claim for – as each insurer might be a little different.

When we shop for insurance, we tend to focus on the most important elements – like the cover type, the excess, and the monthly payment – but if you end up with a floating car, you’ll wish you’d taken a few more minutes to explore your specific insurer’s approach to water damage!

Are you at fault?

Generally, when we think of flood damage to cars, we think about scenes on the news where we see houses and cars underwater – but in actual fact, most flood damage happens when people are driving.

Cars are not designed to deal with much standing water – in fact, just 6 inches (15cm) of water is enough to reach the bottom of the doors on many cars – and you might be surprised to find that even 12 inches (30cm) of water could make a car float. When water is flowing, anything over 18 inches (45cm) of water could potentially carry your car away. 

The trouble is, it’s impossible to judge the depth of water when you’re driving – so splashing through a slightly flooded road or large puddle could be enough to stall your engine and let water into the car. 

If you’ve driven your car into water – or you’ve parked your car somewhere that there’s a strong possibility water with reach (a slipway on to a beach for instance), then there’s a good chance that your insurer will consider the accident to be avoidable and may not payout. There are exceptions to this – if you were already cut off by water and trying to get out, for example – but if you’ve caused your car to enter the water, you might find your insurer won’t payout.

On the other hand, if flooding was completely unforeseen, then the incident will generally be considered unavoidable. This would be the case if your car was flooded where you usually park it, for example. 
Overall, if you’ve got fully comprehensive cover with no flood damage exclusions – and the damage was unavoidable, then you’ll probably find that your insurer will cover the damage done to your car.

Does car insurance cover water damage to engines?

Although water can do a lot of costly damage to the interior of your car, perhaps the most expensive damage to put right is water damage to your engine. Effectively, engines have to ‘breathe’ – taking air in to help combustion – and breathing the waste gases out through the exhaust system.

Unfortunately, this means there’s plenty of opportunities for water to get into the mechanical workings for your vehicle – and, if it does, the repair bill can be thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of pounds.

The good news is, as long as you didn’t drive into the water, and you have fully comprehensive cover – again, with no exclusions – you should find that you’re protected against any big repair bills relating to your engine.

Where can I find insurance for a flood-damaged car?

Now we know the circumstances around claiming for flood damage – what happens if you’ve bought a car that has existing water damage? Where can you find insurance cover?

Fortunately, there are plenty of insurers who will provide cover for previously accident damaged vehicles.

Finding insurance for a vehicle that’s previously been flooded will depend on the severity of the damage and whether or not the car’s been written off by the insurance company that was providing cover at the time. Insurance assessors use a code system to describe the damage done to a car – and what needs to be done with the car after the claim. Those categories used to be A, B, C, and D – but have now been changed to A, B, S, and N.

You should never, under any circumstances, buy a car that’s been either a Category A or B write off. By law, these cars must be destroyed – and in some instances, even selling the parts is illegal. If flood damage has led to a Cat A or B write off, you will not find an insurance company willing to issue cover.

Since Category S covers any structural damage – you’ll generally find that flood/water damage is considered a Category N write off – meaning there’s no damage to the overall structure of the vehicle, but you may find there’s damage to the engine, brakes, steering, and electrics. At Car.co.uk, we work with a range of specialist insurers who can offer cover for Category N damaged vehicles – so you’ll have no problem getting cover at a great price.

Other related FAQs

Looking for more related content to this? We’ve picked a selection of related topics that you may find helpful

If you’re involved in a hit and run accident, some car insurance policies will cover the cost of repairing your car, or pay you the current market price if it’s written-off.

Depending on the type of car insurance you have in place, it’s likely your policy will provide cover for theft.

In short, if you have comprehensive car insurance, it will pay for repairs under certain conditions.

Although you may be covered to drive other cars as part of your insurance policy, this cover often specifically excludes rental vehicles. Instead, your rental car provider will have insurance built into the cost of the hire – with a few options that’ll let you reduce any excess you’ll pay in the event of an accident.

If you have a fully comprehensive policy, you’ll generally find that insurers will pay out for severe weather damage like that caused by hail. Be warned though, not all do – so if you’re concerned, it’s important to check your policy for any exclusions.

Comprehensive car insurance - often referred to as fully comprehensive (or ‘fully comp’) – includes cover for damage to your own car, whereas third party, fire and theft policies only cover damage to someone else’s vehicle and not your own.

If your car insurance covers windscreen damage, it will probably also include cover for all other broken car windows, and some policies extend cover to glass sunroofs.

Most comprehensive car insurance policies will cover repair for damage caused by potholes on public roads. Alternatively, you can claim directly from the authority responsible for the road.

Since car insurance policies are designed to put things right after an accident, most standard cover doesn’t protect against non-motoring criminal acts like vandalism. That said, many insurers can add vandalism cover to your policy if you’re worried about deliberate damage.

Many comprehensive car insurance policies provide cover for a cracked windshield, but not all. When taking out car insurance, check that windshield cover is included, otherwise you may need to pay extra for this cover.