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Does your car insurance cover flood damage?

With heavy rainfall and storms regularly making the news, flooding is a worry in many parts of the UK.

It’s not just homes and businesses under threat – flooding can seriously damage your car. But will your car insurance cover flood damage?

With heavy rainfall and storms regularly making the news, flooding is a worry in many parts of the UK.

It’s not just homes and businesses under threat – flooding can seriously damage your car. But will your car insurance cover flood damage?

Written by
Alex Hasty
Insurance comparison and finance expert
Reviewed by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
1 JUNE 2023
7 min read
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Does any car insurance cover flood damage?

Not all car insurance policies will cover flood damage. But having fully comprehensive car insurance means you’ve the best chance of being covered.

Even if you have fully comprehensive cover, check your policy’s terms and conditions. You may only be covered if you’ve done what you can to keep your car safe. 

Insurance providers usually put flood damage into two categories:

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

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

To make a claim for flood damage, contact your insurance provider as soon as you can. They’ll let you know what to 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 may be able to claim for damaged belongings too. If it doesn’t and you have personal possessions cover as part of your home contents insurance, you’ll need to make a separate claim with your home insurance provider.

Don’t try and dry out the car yourself. This is a professional job and your insurance provider may have a ‘preferred repairer’ they’ll want you to use.

The same goes for any repairs. Unless you use a ‘recommended mechanic’, you might not be covered for the work.

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

  • Your car’s registration
  • Your policy number
  • Evidence of the damage, such as photos or a video
  • The date, time, and location of the incident. 

Read more on how the claims process works. 

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, while a couple of feet of moving water is enough to sweep a vehicle away. If your car stalls after driving through water and you restart the engine, you could cause serious damage.
 
Water infiltration can cause: 

  • Mould and rust 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.

Did you know?

The level of damage can depend on the type of water. Saltwater is more corrosive than rain or fresh water, increasing the risk of rust, especially on the underside of your car.

Muddy water causes a lot more damage to your car’s upholstery, which will probably need to be replaced.

What type of water damage will my car insurance cover? 

The type of water damage your insurance covers will depend on your policy. Fully comprehensive insurance usually covers damage to:

  • The engine
  • Upholstery and entertainment systems
  • Child car seats
  • Your belongings (if your policy includes personal possessions cover).

Your insurance provider will classify flood damage as unavoidable or avoidable. If they believe the damage could have been avoided (you intentionally drove into flood water without knowing how deep it was, for example), they might not pay out.

If you’re concerned about flooding and whether your car is covered, contact your car insurance provider.

Safety precautions in a flood 

It’s best to avoid driving in severe weather conditions if possible. But 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. 
  • Don’t follow another vehicle into flood water. You never know what’s under the waterline and you could stall or be swept away.  

Check out our tips for driving in the wet and rain.

Did you know?

In the UK, driving past someone and splashing them is a motoring 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 prosecuted and charged up to £5,000. So always slow down when driving 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 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. There may be water and mud in the system, which could cause 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 let it inside.

Read our guide on how to drive safely through flood water.

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

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

Check what replacement options your policy offers if your car is a write-off. Most comprehensive policies include a new car replacement for vehicles under 12 months old. Check your policy to be sure.

If you have GAP insurance, you may be able to claim for a replacement car, even if your vehicle is over a year old.

Frequently asked questions

Am I covered if I drive during a red weather warning?

Driving during a red weather warning won’t necessarily invalidate your car insurance, but taking unnecessary risks could.

The Met Office issues a red warning when dangerous weather is expected and there’s a risk to life. There are no rules about driving in severe conditions, but it’s far better to avoid travelling if you can.

If your insurance provider believes you drove recklessly or ignored safety warnings, it’s likely they’ll reject your claim.

What is a flash flood?

A flash flood happens when rain falls so fast and heavily that the ground can’t absorb or drain it. Roads can then flood with fast-moving water. Severe flash flooding is exceptionally dangerous as the current can be powerful enough to sweep away your car.

What is aquaplaning?

Aquaplaning can happen if you drive fast in heavy rain or flooded conditions. Surface water is pushed under the tyres, creating a layer of water between the rubber and road, causing the tyres to lose their grip. Without traction, you can’t steer, brake or accelerate, and 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, keeping the steering wheel straight and steady. 

What category is a flood-damaged car?

If your flood-damaged car is written off by an insurance provider, it will be put into a damage category. These categories determine whether it can be put back on the road or if its parts can be used.

The category a flood-damaged car is in depends on the extent of the damage.

  • If it’s been completely underwater, it’s likely to be a Category A. That means it can’t be sold and even the parts can’t be used.
  • If the car’s electrics or mechanics have been damaged by water, it might be a Category B. In this case, its parts can be used but the car will be scrapped.
  • Less serious damage might put a car in Category N. These cars can be driven again, but will need considerable work.

Buying a flood-damaged car is very risky, so only consider it if you’re absolutely sure of what you’re doing.

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Alex Hasty - Insurance comparison and finance expert

At Compare the Market, Alex has had roles as Commercial Associate Director, Director of Trading and Director of Growth. He’s currently responsible for the development and execution of Comparethemarket’s longer-term strategic options, ensuring the right breadth of products and services that meet customer needs.

Learn more about Alex

Rebecca Goodman - Insurance expert

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance financial journalist who specialises in insurance, personal finance and consumer affairs. Rebecca regularly writes for national newspapers including The Independent and The Mail on Sunday on a wide-range of financial topics. She covers everything from money-saving tips and holiday advice to investigations into how energy efficient appliances can cut the cost of household bills and the impact donating money can have on those in need. Along with features in national papers, Rebecca also writes news stories for websites including Yourmoney.com and The Money Edit.

Learn more about Rebecca

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