Information on flood-damaged vehicles for sale

I recently received the following information regarding flood-damaged vehicles from the recent hurricanes in Texas, Louisiana, and Florida that may be for sale and I hope you find it useful.

Things to check for to determine if a vehicle is flood-damaged:

• Water stains, mold, mud or sand under the carpets, seats,   floor mats, inside roof cloth and under the dashboard.
• Rusty metal inside the car. The inside of a car does not usually rust.
• Musty odors in the trunk and in the passenger compartment   (especially when running the A/C or heat).
• Fog or moisture inside interior and exterior lights and excessive   fogging of windows and condensation on windows.
• Mud or grit in the spare tire compartment and under the hood. When checking under the hood, be sure to look 
  under wires, boxes and in hidden areas.
• Brittle wires under the dashboard, speakers and hood.
• Oxidation under the hood. Oxidation on metal can look like white powder or it could even be small holes called pitting.

A checklist of items that may indicate a vehicle is flood-damaged is available at www.insurance.pa.gov
, by clicking on “Auto” under “Insurance Coverage Resources.”

Flood-impacted vehicles that have been issued a certificate of salvage are required to undergo an enhanced vehicle safety inspection prior to being issued a title in Pennsylvania. Upon successful completion of the enhanced inspection, a Pennsylvania title will be issued with a Flood or Reconstructed Flood brand.

Knowingly buying a flood-damaged car is an option that can be more affordable for consumers, but it is important that those consumers understand the risks and downsides before making that important decision. Consumers buying a vehicle with a salvage certificate or flood title should be aware of possible implications if they file an insurance claim on the vehicle. Even if the vehicle is new if a claim is later filed, the insurance company will research the vehicle history and see the prior claim for flood damage. If the vehicle is deemed to be a total loss, the insurer will likely pay out significantly less than would be paid for a vehicle that did not have flood damage.

Insurers also may not be willing to provide comprehensive and collision coverage on flood-damaged vehicles because the insurer can’t be sure of the vehicle’s value or how complete any repairs are. Getting a loan for a vehicle without full comprehensive and collision coverage is nearly impossible, so consumers would likely have to pay cash for the vehicle.

Consumers can also use the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s database to see if the vehicle had a claim for flood or other damage filed, which is a free public service available at www.nicb.org/vincheck. For used cars, consumers can also check references services such as Carfax.


If you have any questions about this or any other state government-related matter, please don’t hesitate to contact my office
.