December 7, 2023


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Flood damaged car, basement might not be covered by insurance

The aftermath of summer storms, such as those that hit many neighborhoods and freeways in metro Detroit, often includes many angry consumers who soon discover what their insurance policies do — and don’t cover — in these types of emergencies.

Some cars that ended up submerged in water on Interstate-94, for example, might not be covered for those damages by insurance.

J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, said drivers will need to have comprehensive insurance coverage on their auto policy when there is flooding or water damage. You’d pay the deductible out of pocket, based on your policy, but then could possibly see insurance kick in. 

“Service varies a lot by insurer,” Hunter said. “I would seek total loss if the engine was involved.” 

Do you have comprehensive coverage? 

Many drivers of older cars, though, may have dropped their comprehensive coverage to save money on their auto insurance. And if they’re dealing with flooding, they’re really stuck. 

A truck sits in the water as floodwater continues to block sections of I-94 near the Livernois Avenue exit in Detroit on June 28, 2021.

“If you want your car to be protected from flood, you do have to have a comprehensive policy,” said Scott Holeman, media relations director for the Insurance Information Institute, which represents larger insurers that offer property and casualty insurance for homes and autos. 

Holeman noted that his father used to keep an old truck in a very rural area in Kansas where he only had liability insurance on that truck — not comprehensive on it. But that was a vehicle that was only used occasionally and the family wouldn’t face a hardship if the truck was damaged beyond repair.