10 Min to Read

Does Flood Insurance Cover Water Damage to Your Car?

Augustine Reyes Chan

Augustine Reyes Chan

When cars get damaged from flooding, flood insurance, homeowners insurance, and even car insurance often don't foot the bill. Find out how to get your car fully protected and which insurance companies can offer the best coverage so you won't be left stranded.
flood miami

In the U.S., floods are the most common natural disaster according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Even areas of the United States that didn't see hurricanes every year are now more frequently getting flooded, even with tropical storms or remnants of tropical storms.

News footage of cars being inundated on highways and roads and left abandoned is becoming all too common.

Flood insurance allocates money to repair or even rebuild a home if it is damaged or destroyed by flooding up to the policy limit.

But many policyholders who have flood insurance, even in addition to auto, home, or renters insurance don’t realize that their car isn’t typically covered by flood insurance if it gets damaged by a flood.

Even if you have homeowners insurance with a rider for flood insurance coverage, the only thing your policy will cover is damage to your personal possessions inside your car.

The only thing that is going to cover the extensive damage to your car during a flooding situation is comprehensive auto insurance coverage.

Best Car Insurance Companies for Full Coverage

Here’s a look at the top auto insurers in the U.S. who sell full coverage (comprehensive and collision).

As examples, you can see which companies are more favorable, or which ones have comprehensive coverage with some great and useful add-ons.

GEICO: Best Car Insurance for Comprehensive Coverage Value

Average Full Coverage Cost: $1,675

Geico has one of the most affordable full coverage compared to similar auto insurance companies.

Policyholders can expect to save $329 per year compared to the average cost of full coverage on comprehensive and collision coverage.

Geico also gets high marks for its easy claims process.

Of all the auto insurance companies here, only Geico offers mechanical breakdown insurance.

Pros and Cons of GEICO Comprehensive Car Coverage
ProsCons
Protects you in the monetary sense when an at-fault driver has no or inadequate auto insurance. This coverage also applies to hit-and-runs.Lack of gap coverage option.
High-risk drivers have higher premiums, period.
If you are at-fault in an accident, you can be assured that your standard bodily injury and property damage will cover the other driver.Geico prefers you to use its website and mobile app to make claims when many (and usually) older people are not tech-savvy.
If your car is damaged and you need a rental, Geico makes you use its site to set up a time and date for when you need to pick up your rental.
Fewer than expected complaints.Many feel that Geico is impersonal.
Above-average customer satisfaction.It may be hard to track down a live agent. The average time you spend waiting on the phone to talk to an agent is usually around thirty minutes.
Easy to navigate website and mobile app.
Comprehensive online quoting tool and mobile app.
Many discounts available.

Allstate: Best Car Insurance For New Car Replacement From Flooding

Average Full Coverage Cost: $2,324

Allstate has the comprehensive coverage that you need.

Most auto insurers pay only for the actual cash value (ACV) of your car if it is deemed a total loss.

Getting the depreciated value is not one of the best options for drivers.

This is why we turned to Allstate as it offers new car replacement.

This means the insurer pays for the value of a brand-new car of the same make and model minus the deductible if your car is totaled in a covered loss.

Pros and Cons of Allstate Comprehensive Car Coverage
ProsCons
Relative to its size, insurer gets fewer complaints to state regulators than other companies.Below average customer satisfaction.
Offers a variety of helpful tools and apps for tech-savvy consumers.You can purchase gap insurance as an add-on, but only after you purchase both comprehensive and collision coverage.
Pet injury protection included if you buy collision coverage. It pays veterinarian bills if your pet is injured in a car accident.Pricing dependent on how you purchase your policy. If it’s online, via agents, or over the phone, the cost of your premium will vary depending on which method you use.
Offers rideshare insurance for Uber and Lyft drivers.Auto body shop professionals give Progressive’s collision repair process a C grade.
Rideshare coverage anytime you have the app on.Discounts not available in all states.

State Farm: Best Car Insurance With Flood Coverage In Customer Satisfaction

Average Full Coverage Cost: $2,617

For their comprehensive and collision insurance, some additional features make State Farm stand out.

If your car is a total loss or in a body shop, the company’s car rental reimbursement will help pay the cost to rent a car.

24/7 roadside assistance coverage is also available.

If you bundle your auto insurance with your home or renters or condo insurance, you can save up to 17%.

The most attractive deal that State Farm has is that policyholders could pay $156 less per year than the average full coverage from other similar companies.

However, State Farm’s rates are significantly higher than their competitors, especially for comprehensive insurance.

Pros and Cons of State Farm Comprehensive Car Coverage
ProsCons
Several customizable car insurance coverage options.Hard-to-swallow full coverage premium for a nationally recognized leader in the auto industry.
Offers rideshare insurance in most states.Car claim repairs done using non-original parts (!)
Generous rental car and travel expenses coverage.Doesn't offer gap insurance.
High customer overall satisfaction.Higher-than-average premiums.
Above average customer claims satisfaction.

Progressive: Best Car Insurance For Custom Parts Coverage

Average Full Coverage Cost: $2,021

Progressive stands out for its coverage options in its full coverage policy.

If you stay accident-free, you can reduce your deductible.

The majority of auto insurers won’t cover items inside your car that were damaged during a flood and aren’t permanently installed.

But at Progressive, items that aren’t permanently installed, such as custom parts, stereos, and GPS systems, will be covered.

Progressive also offers some attractive add-ons like gap insurance, accident forgiveness, rideshare insurance, rental car reimbursement, and loan-lease payoff.

But make sure you only choose an add-on that you’ll use or need because your premium will be raised.

Pros and Cons of Progressive Comprehensive Car Coverage
ProsCons
Generous perks such as accident forgiveness, new car replacement, and safe driving bonus every six months.J.D. Power Study for auto insurance shopping is below average.
Offers rideshare insurance in many statesAuto insurance claims satisfaction is just average.
Augmented reality on mobile app to map out paths to safety in the event of a fire or other emergency.Overall customer satisfaction ratings are below average compared with similar insurers.
Drivewise tracks driving behavior for potential discounts.

Travelers: Best Car Insurance Overall Best Flood Coverage Features

Average Full Coverage Cost: $2,391

Travelers is known for its breadth of coverage and discounts.

If you lease or finance your car and it is declared a total loss due to a covered peril, the typical insurer will only pay you the actual cash value (ACV), as touched on above.

However, this leaves you stranded.

Gap insurance is an optional coverage designed to help you pay off your existing auto loan if your vehicle is deemed a total loss or if it was stolen and you owe more than the car's depreciated value.

Gap insurance helps pay the gap between the depreciated value of your car and what you still owe on the car.

The coverage may be necessary for you if you don’t want to pay out-of-pocket.

New car replacement coverage replaces your vehicle with the same make and model if it’s a total loss within the first five years of ownership.

Many insurers offer this coverage, but it usually only applies for one to three years of ownership.
Travelers also covers rental car expenses.

It also has two plans of roadside assistance to choose from. For a basic plan, towing is covered up to 15 miles, and for a “premiere” plan, towing is covered up to 100 miles.

Pros and Cons of Travelers Comprehensive Car Coverage
ProsCons
App tracks driving speed, braking, and acceleration habits. After 90 days, you get a discount of up to 20% for good driving.The good driving app also picks up any risky driving habits and in this case your rates can skyrocket.
BBB rating: AExpensive coverage.
AM Best financial strength rating A++Rideshare insurance available only in Illinois and Colorado.
New driver discount.Mixed customer service reviews.
Easy quote process.Android users report issues with insurer’s mobile app.

How We Decided

We selected the car insurance companies for best comprehensive coverage based on a number of factors. These include discounts or special features, available technology, customer reviews, and location.

Discounts/Features

Insurance companies that offered a myriad or unique discounts were generally favored. Special features such as full car replacement, coverage of car rentals, and rideshares were noted on our selection.

Technology

Quick access to filing online claims and app technology were special features we paid attention to. Technology can make consumers' lives easier, especially app that can report issues or driving habits in real time.

Customer Reviews

We checked a number of sources for customer reviews, noting the the particular issues that costumers faced. We also took into account if generally, the experiences were positive.

Location/Availability

We opted for national insurance carriers that were accessible anywhere in the country. While there were some insurance companies that offered superior coverage to others, they were not included if their coverage was regional or limited to several states.

How Much Damage Do Floods Inflict on Cars?

Unfortunately, just a few inches of water from flooding can cause extensive damage to your car, costing you a lot of money.

Water can cause electrical problems.

And once a car gets submerged in water, it may never drive again. 

Flood damage can include minor damages such as foggy lights as well as mold inside the car and rust or corrosion stemming from the flood.

Even minor or cosmetic damage can affect your car's performance.

Certain kinds of damage can even cause safety issues.

But it can also wreak havoc in an invasive way, and which is dependent on how much water enters your car and what part it enters.

Water doesn’t need to flood your car entirely for it to become a total loss.

Just an inch of water can lead to extensive mechanical issues and electrical damages that may not be repairable.

A few of these instances include:

  • Engine seizure
  • Warped brakes
  • Airbag failure
  • Computer malfunction
  • Transmission failure

Adding Comprehensive Coverage is the Only Way to Fully Protect Your Car

The good thing is that auto insurance does cover flood damage to your car.

But the only way to make sure that your insurance company will reimburse you for flood damage or a total loss to your car due to flood damage is to include comprehensive coverage on your policy.

Comprehensive coverage does not come with the standard auto insurance policy.

You have to elect to have it.

Comprehensive coverage with collision is called a full-coverage policy.

A full-coverage policy typically means that it satisfies your state's minimum requirements and then some.

Comprehensive coverage will cover your car for anything outside of damage from an accident.

This means if a hurricane caused flooding in your car and damaged it, comprehensive coverage is designed to help you to cover any damage to your car.

Comprehensive coverage’s most common definition is that it is a type of insurance that includes both comprehensive and collision insurance.

Comprehensive and collision act differently.

What's the Difference Between Comprehensive and Collision Coverage?

Collision covers damage when your car crashes into another car or some fixed structure or stationary object either by driver error or hazardous conditions.

Collision also covers if your car is subject to a hit-and-run.

Note that the damage you cause to other cars is covered, but your car is not.

Meanwhile, in addition to flood coverage, comprehensive covers many other instances of coincidental damage and theft and vandalism as well.

Below is a list of things covered by a comprehensive coverage that standard collision coverage won't include.

Comprehensive Auto Insurance Coverage
Theft and VandalismPersonal belongings in your car that a standard home or renters insurance policy also has but also theft and vandalism of the actual car.
Natural disaster damageDamage that occurs from hail, windstorms, hurricanes, and flooding.
FireThis covers vandalism and wild fires.
Falling objectsDamage from coincidental incidents of falling objects.
AnimalsDamages caused by animals.
Imperfect sealingBesides natural disasters that lead to flooding, water still can come into your car and damage it if there is imperfect sealing around doors, windows, and sunroofs even if everything is closed.
Car rental or loanerSome comprehensive plans will cover the cost of a car rental if your car is being repaired.

Are You Required to Have Comprehensive Auto Coverage?

If you lease or finance your car, your lender may not ask you to get comprehensive coverage.

However, in most cases, your lender will require that you have it.

This allows the leasing company or lienholder to protect their investment.

And this means not all car owners have comprehensive coverage.

If you own your car, then getting coverage is up to you.

However, it’s a wise idea to have full coverage.

A rule of thumb is that if your car is under 10 years old, and is worth more than $4,000, you should get coverage (and its counterpart collision insurance) as your car is still considered valuable.

In sum, here is when comprehensive coverage is a wise choice:

If your car is on loan

If you are leasing your car

If your car is worth more than $4,000

If you live in a coastal region or a flood-prone area.

What Comprehensive Coverage Doesn’t Cover

Comprehensive coverage does not cover flood damage if it’s due to your negligence or your poor maintenance.

If you fail to close your sunroof in normal rain, or if you leave your windows down during a storm and water gets inside, your policy won’t cover it.

Likewise, if your car is damaged due to a slow leak over time and you failed to correct it, you won’t be covered as well.

And while homeowners insurance covers the contents in your car due to damage or theft, comprehensive coverage won’t cover you for items that aren’t permanently installed in your car.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, this includes removable radios and sound equipment, as well as GPS or navigation system.

How Much Does Comprehensive Auto Coverage Cost?

The average comprehensive coverage rate is $189 per year, which does not include your necessary collision coverage.

For example, Progressive insurance policyholders pay an average of $23 a month for comprehensive coverage if they have a $500 deductible. That’s more than the average US rate.

Like most types of insurance—homeowners, rental, etc.—your rate is based on many factors.

This includes, but is not limited to, your age, credit score, your driving record, where you live, and where you store your car.

In addition, your premium is also based on the deductible you choose, your car’s value, and your provider.

How Do You File a Claim After Flooding?

Filing a claim for flood damage is similar to filing a claim for any other type of car damage.

You can report your claim by calling up an agent or the company that sold

you the insurance policy.

You can also file a claim online if the company has a claims process area on their website, or if the company allows it.

You should file your claim as soon as you can or right after your car was damaged.

Expediting your claim is for your own good.

The longer you wait, the more damage the water can be inflicting on your car.

And the more water is kept inside your car, your car will be on the fast track to building up mold, which can spread around your entire car.

The easiest way to file a claim is to document your damage by taking a copious amount of pictures showing where the damage is in your car.

You can also create a video if you have the means.

This will help the insurance adjuster before he comes out and assesses the situation.

You won’t be able to get everything; electrical damage, for example, won’t show up in a photo or video.

Usually, after a flood, your adjuster will declare your car to be a total loss.

That’s how bad that water damage can affect your vehicle.

Why a “Total Loss” is Bad for Policyholders

Here’s the takeaway you need to remember: your car is considered a “total loss” when the cost to repair it is greater than its value.

So if your car insurance adjuster declares your car as a total loss, your policy will kick in to replace it or repair it after your deductible.

A total loss is not the best thing for most policyholders.

That’s because your auto insurance will only pay you the ACV.

ACV, or actual cash value, means you'll get the current value of your car, which will usually be less than the cost you’ll incur to replace it.

And especially if your car is older and has depreciated.

For example, let’s say you bought a Volvo XC40 for $40,000 in 2019, and in 2021 it only has a value of $20,000.

If a flood or covered natural disaster totals your Volvo, you would only be paid the $20,000.

This is the major drawback of comprehensive coverage.

What You Should Do If Your Repairs are Minor

Not every car is considered a total loss.

If flood damage caused only cosmetic repairs such as mold inside your car, or rust that developed because the interior of the car is still wet, all you need to do is to file a claim, pay your deductible, and get your car repaired.

But you should take your car to a mechanic before filing a claim.

Your policy will only go into effect once you have met your deductible.

So you should only file a claim if the cost of the repairs is greater than your insurance deductible.

This allows you to save money, not having to pay your deductible.

What Happens If Your Car’s Not Totaled?

If the car is not totaled but still needs repairs, the driver is allowed to get his or her vehicle repaired to the same condition as it was before a covered peril.

However, there’s a major drawback. Many have health and safety concerns about driving a car that has been flooded.

And if you decide to sell your car, it's not going to be worth as much if it hadn't been flooded.

In these situations, you may want to pursue a diminished value claim.

This means you can recover the difference between the car’s value prior to its damage and its new value after repairs.

But you should always check your auto policy, as some states don’t allow this.