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Will car insurance cover water damage?

Should you upgrade?

With global warming and erratic weather patterns, the UK is beginning to experience flooding more regularly, so it’s worth considering upgrading to comprehensive car insurance if you don’t already have it. This is especially the case if you live in an area that has a high flood risk.

In what circumstances will car insurance cover water damage?

Water damage must not be your fault to successfully claim on your car insurance policy. If a river or lake overflows and causes flooding, or there is a severe weather event that results in water damage, these are classed as acts of nature that are not your fault, and you will be able to claim for the cost of repairs so long as your actions didn’t cause the damage. For example, you will be able to claim if your car was damaged by flooding while it was parked in its usual place. 

However, if you deliberately drive through a flooded area and this causes water damage, the insurance company is likely to argue that this is your fault and will therefore refuse a claim. 

When assessing a claim, the insurer wants to make sure that you have taken all reasonable care and not been negligent by putting your car in danger of water damage.

What happens when your car is flood damaged?

Small amounts of water entering a car’s combustion chamber can damage the engine, perhaps beyond repair. Water entering the engine can prevent the car from starting, and this can be potentially dangerous if flood water is rising. As little as a foot of water can cause cars to start to float, and two feet of water can sweep a car away – even hefty 4x4 vehicles.

If the engine is flooded and the car won’t start, a breakdown service will be able to rescue the car provided it is on dry land or in just a few inches of water.

If you have parked your car, and return to find it in flood water, don’t be tempted to start it as this can cause expensive damage. First, call a breakdown service to check the car. There’s a chance that an unstarted flooded vehicle will be OK when it dries out.

If you drive through flood water and the car appears to be undamaged, remember that if there is water in the engine, it could cause the car to stop after a few more miles.

Claiming for flood damage

Don’t dry the car out yourself as this requires professional expertise, and don’t book the car in for a garage repair without consulting your insurer, as they may have a list of preferred repairers.

Tell your insurer the extent of the flood damage. For example, let them know if is confined to just the engine or it includes the inside of the car as well. The electrical system could also be damaged. Your assessment does not have to be highly accurate, as the car will be checked by a qualified mechanic, but be as thorough as you can.

If the carpets, seats or entertainment systems are damaged, the insurer will probably pay for them to be replaced - depending on the specific terms of your policy.

Lastly, remember that a claim could reduce your no claims bonus and/or increase your insurance cost when renewing. Also, bear in mind that you will need to pay any excess as agreed in your policy if you make a claim.

Other related FAQs

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

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.

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.

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.

In most cases, your car insurance will provide cover for the cost of minor engine damage as the result of an accident, but it may not cover damage due to wear and tear.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

As long as you have fully comprehensive cover with no exclusions relating to flood or water damage, you should find that your car insurance covers water damage. Be warned though, if the damage was avoidable (if you drove into a large puddle for instance) you might find your insurer won’t payout.