LOUISIANA (KLFY)– With the arrival this week of a hurricane on the U.S. western coast, AAA Louisiana reminds residents living along the Gulf Coast that they are in the “season within the season,” when hurricanes are most prone to strike.

“Hopefully, you formed a plan at the beginning of the official start of the hurricane season in June,” AAA Louisiana spokesman Don Redman said. “If not, then now is definitely the time to update and review your family disaster plan, go over your home and auto insurance policies and gather supplies to protect your home and property, so you’re already prepared, should a storm head our way this season.”

“Surprisingly, many Americans don’t have flood insurance,” Redman added. “Without it, they risk having to pay out of pocket to make repairs, which can be financially devastating.”

AAA Louisiana offers the following tips to help protect your property and speed your recovery in the event of a storm: 

  • Read your auto and homeowner’s insurance policy carefully to understand what coverage you purchased. 
  • Make an up-to-date inventory and list the items you own. Photograph or video each room and the exterior of your home, if possible. List item serial numbers when available.  
  • The same documentation preservation applies to your vehicle as well. After your car has been damaged by a flood, file a flooded car claim as soon as you can. Documenting the damage with photographs will help in the claims process. 
  • Safeguard your records by keeping insurance policies and your inventory in a safe deposit box or other secure spot. Accurate records speed up claims processing and can help prove tax-deductible, uninsured losses. 

Does Auto Insurance Cover Flooded Vehicles?

It depends on the type of coverage you have on your vehicle.

For example, liability car insurance won’t cover flood damage. This type of coverage protects you if you’re in an at-fault crash.  A comprehensive auto policy will cover flood damage, whether because of heavy rains, rising rivers or hurricane-caused tidal surges.  However, some additional coverages may be needed to cover a total loss, or rental car expenses. 

“We recommend that you consult with a knowledgeable insurance agent to discuss the right protection for you,” Redman said.  “Whether seeking protection for the home or auto, you want to make sure that you understand the coverages that best protect your finances during the hurricane season.”

AAA Louisiana offers the following tips to help protect your property in the event of a flood: 

  • Read your auto insurance policy thoroughly, so you understand what coverage you have purchased. 
  • Understand that driving through flooded streets poses many risks, including forcing water into the engine through the air intake under the front bumper, causing vehicles to stall, resulting in costly repairs. 
  • When dealing with an automobile that has been in a flood, the first step should be contacting your insurance company for help in determining the best course of action. Documenting the damage with photographs helps the claims process. 
  • To avoid causing additional problems, do not attempt to start a flood-damaged car until a thorough vehicle inspection has been performed by a qualified technician who should do three things: 
  1. Inspect mechanical components and systems that contain fluids for water contamination. 
  2. Drain floodwater from contaminated components and systems, flush with clean water or an appropriate solvent, and then refill systems with the proper new fluids. 
  3. Inspect, clean, and dry electrical system components and connections.

Once floodwaters rise above the vehicle door openings, extensive disassembly may be required for cleaning. Depending on the vehicle year, make and model, the cost of repairing flood damage can easily exceed a car’s value.