Super Storm Sandy Flood Damaged Cars May Soon Come to Market

Posted on November 14, 2012 by Dana Manner

In the wake of Super Storm Sandy stories abound about flood damaged cars that are going to be dumped onto the market and that unsuspecting buyers will be victimized by criminal used car dealers.

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Hurricane Katrina changed the laws when it comes to insurance companies reporting flood damage vehicles, and that “flood damage” should be branded on the vehicle’s title, and appear in a Vehicle History Report like Carfax and Autocheck. The same law applies to Sandy, and while the law helped to protect a lot of consumers from unknowingly buying a flood damaged car, it did not solve all problems, and many flood damaged cars will still “slip through the cracks” and end up with “clean” titles.

For example, consider these two situations, where flood damaged vehicle might slip through:

  1. There are car owners who were transients ¬†in the “Sandy Zone” and simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and because those cars are not registered in the Sandy Zone, those cars may never get the cautionary marks on their title from the insurance company.
  2. Not everyone has collision and comprehensive insurance that would cover flood damage, and those cars that are flooded will likely be traded-in by the uninsured prior owner and resold without any flood damage notation on the title or vehicle history.

Florida law defines a “Flood Vehicle” as a motor vehicle or mobile home that has been declared to be a total loss pursuant to Fla. Stat. 319.30(3)(a) resulting from damage caused by water, and it is against the law in Florida to¬†knowingly sell, exchange, or transfer a flood vehicle without prior to consummating the sale disclosing in writing to the purchaser the fact that the vehicle is a flood vehicle.