The Association of British Insurers says that as a result of December’s storms, its members have received 5600 claims for flood-damaged vehicles. It expects the total value of these claims to be about £26 million, a figure that applies to comprehensively insured cars that are covered for flood damage.
Most will be written off and their owners paid a settlement cheque by the insurer to cover its replacement. The most seriously damaged ones will be declared category A or B write-offs, and will then be scrapped or crushed.
The less seriously damaged will be flagged as category C or D. These
can be returned to the road after repair, although a category C car must be inspected first.
Cars with third-party cover
are not insured for flood damage.
As a result, depending on its condition, the owner of a flooded
car has little choice but to sell it as scrap to a vehicle breaker such as Michael Douglas, for around £90.
However, experts are concerned that desperate owners who cannot afford to scrap their car (or even owners of comprehensively insured cars who cannot afford to lose their no-claims bonus) may be tempted to dry it out and sell it on to an unsuspecting buyer. Admittedly,
the nature of modern vehicles, with their complex electrical systems, means that only the least flood-damaged cars could pass undetected, but it’s a risk nonetheless.
Earlier this month Neil Hodson, deputy managing director of vehicle information company Cap HPI, warned car buyers to be on the lookout for rising numbers of
flood-damaged cars entering the
car market in the coming months.
“There’s a danger that some car owners may try to sell on their flood-damaged vehicle, once its interior has dried out and it has been cleaned,” he said. “Omitting its history will leave the new owner in the dark about its real condition.”
James Carswell, of Scotia Vehicle Inspections in Glasgow, has inspected hundreds of flood-damaged cars in recent weeks and fears that many third-party-insured cars will be sold on in a dangerous and contaminated state.
“I expect hundreds of flooded third-party vehicles will come onto the market,” he says. “I went to Otley in Yorkshire to inspect a flood-damaged Ford Transit mini-bus recently. It should have been scrapped, but the owner said he couldn’t afford to and that instead he’d fix it up and sell it on.”
December’s floods are not the
first to have struck UK towns and cities. Michael Ward, a used car inspector based in Bradford, recalls examining a Suzuki Vitara for a customer when the car was advertised for sale shortly after
the city was flooded in 2007.
The car had no write-off history,
but Ward suspected that it had been the victim of flooding.