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.