Does your car insurance cover flood damage?

With heavy rainfall and storms in the news each year, flooding is a worry for many parts of the UK. But it’s not just homes and businesses that are under threat. Flooding can cause serious damage to our cars.  
 
But does car insurance cover flood damage?

With heavy rainfall and storms in the news each year, flooding is a worry for many parts of the UK. But it’s not just homes and businesses that are under threat. Flooding can cause serious damage to our cars.  
 
But does car insurance cover flood damage?

Alex Hasty
Insurance expert
7
minute read
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Last Updated 21 JUNE 2022

Will all types of car insurance cover flood damage? 

No, not all types will cover flood damage. You may be able to claim for flood damage if you have fully comprehensive car insurance. But it’s most unlikely that your car will be covered for flood damage on a third-party fire and theft policy.  
 
Even if you have fully comprehensive cover, you should check the terms and conditions of your policy. You may only be covered if you’ve done what’s necessary to keep your car safe.  
 
Typically, insurance providers put flood damage into two categories: 

  • Unavoidable flood damage – if your car is flooded where it’s usually parked. For example, at home.
  • Avoidable flood damage – if you take risks like driving into a flooded area, despite warning alerts.

What damage can flooding do to your car? 

Flooding could cause severe damage to parts of your car. 
 
It only takes about a foot of water to make your car float, and a couple of feet of moving water is enough to sweep a vehicle away. And if you have to restart your engine if it stalls after driving through water, you could cause serious damage. 
 
Water infiltration can cause: 

  • Mould and rust in the inside of your car 
  • Contaminated fluids 
  • Rusted suspension joints 
  • Malfunctioning brakes 
  • Damage to parking sensors and cameras 
  • Damage to external lights and indicators.

If you’ve driven on flooded roads, it’s a good idea to get your car checked out by a mechanic for any signs of damage.

Did you know?

The type of water your car was submerged in can impact the damage. For example, saltwater is much more corrosive than rain or freshwater, so there’s a higher risk of rust problems, especially on the underside of your car. Muddy water, meanwhile, will cause a lot more damage to the sponge and upholstery in your car’s interior, which will most likely need to be replaced.

Safety precautions in a flood 

It’s always best to avoid driving in severe weather conditions if you can. But it isn’t always possible to postpone a journey, and flash floods can take you by surprise. To help keep you and your car safe: 

  • Check for weather warnings. You can find out if your area is at risk of flooding and sign up for alerts from the Environment Agency.
  • Move your car to higher ground if your area is at risk of flooding. 
  • If you’re driving, don’t just follow another vehicle into flood water. You never know what’s under the waterline, and you could end up stalling or being swept away. 

Get more tips for driving in the wet and rain.

Did you know?

In the UK, driving past someone and splashing them is a motor offence. If you’re caught splashing a pedestrian or a cyclist, you could face a £100 fixed penalty notice and three points on your licence. If your driving is considered particularly selfish and aggressive, you could even be taken to court and charged a maximum fine of £5,000. So, while you should always drive more carefully on flooded roads, slow right down to a crawl when you drive past pedestrians or cyclists.

What to do if your car is flooded 

  • If your car is stuck in flood water, you may need to get it towed to a nearby garage. If you have breakdown cover, call your provider for help. 
  • If your car is submerged, don’t try to start the engine – even if the water has subsided. You don’t know how much water and mud may have got into the system and trying to start it again could cause even more damage.
  • If you’re stuck in a flooded vehicle, it might be safer to wait in the car and call for help. Floodwater can contain harmful bacteria from overflowing drains and sewers, so you don’t want to be wading around in it.

Read more tips on how to drive safely through flood water.

How do I claim for flood damage on my car insurance? 

To make a car insurance claim for flood damage, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible. They’ll explain what you should do next. It’s likely they’ll arrange for an approved mechanic to come out and assess the damage.

If your car insurance policy includes personal possessions cover, you might also be able to claim for any damaged belongings that were in the car. If not, and you have personal possessions cover as part of your home contents insurance, you’ll need to put in a separate claim with your home insurance provider.

Don’t try and dry the car out yourself. It will need to be done professionally, and your insurance provider may have their own ‘preferred repairers’ that they’ll want you to use. Same goes for any repairs. If you use the local garage and not a ‘recommended mechanic’ chosen by your insurance provider, you might not be covered for the works carried out. 

To process your claim, your insurance provider will need a few details, including: 

  • Your car registration
  • Your car insurance policy number
  • Any evidence of the flood damage, such as photos or a video
  • The date, time, and place of the flooding incident. 

Read more on how the claims process works.

What will happen to my car if it’s damaged in a flood? 

Flood damage doesn’t necessarily mean your car will be a write-off. Your insurance provider will need an assessment of the damage to decide if it’s a total loss or not.  

You’ll need to check what replacement conditions your policy offers if your car is a write-off. Most comprehensive policies include a new car replacement for vehicles under 12 months old. Just check your policy to be certain this is the case. 
 
If you have GAP insurance, you may be able to claim for a new car replacement, even if your vehicle is over 12 months old.

What type of water damage will my car insurance cover? 

It depends on the terms of your policy. Fully comprehensive insurance may cover: 

  • Engine damage
  • Damage to upholstery and entertainment systems
  • Damage to or loss of child car seats
  • Damage to or loss of your belongings if you have personal possessions cover included in your policy.

Just remember that your insurance provider will classify the flood damage as unavoidable or avoidable. If they believe the damage could easily have been avoided, for example, you purposefully drove into flood water without knowing how deep it was, they might not pay out.

If you’re concerned about the risk of flooding and whether your car is covered, contact your car insurance provider for more information.

Frequently asked questions

Will I be covered if I drive during a red weather warning?

It depends. While driving during a red weather warning won’t necessarily invalidate your car insurance, taking unnecessary risks could do.  

The Met Office issues a red warning when dangerous weather is expected and there’s a risk to life. Although there are no rules against driving in severe conditions, it would be better to stay put and avoid travelling if you can. 

If your insurance provider believes you drove recklessly or ignored safety warnings, putting you and others at risk, they’ll likely reject your claim.

What is a flash flood?

A flash flood happens when heavy rain falls so fast over a short period of time, that the ground can’t absorb or drain it away quickly enough. This leads to roads flooding with fast-moving water. Severe flash flooding can be exceptionally dangerous, as the current can be powerful enough to sweep your car away.

What is aquaplaning?

Aquaplaning can happen if you drive fast in heavy rain and flooded conditions. Surface water is pushed under the tyres  of your vehicle, creating a layer of water between the rubber and the road, and causing the tyres to lose their grip. Without traction, you won’t be able to steer, brake or accelerate – and you risk losing control of your car. 

Aquaplaning can be dangerous and frightening. If you feel your car aquaplaning on a flooded road, keep calm and avoid slamming on the brakes.  Slow down gradually by gently easing off the accelerator, while keeping your steering wheel straight and steady.

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