Flooded car or home in STL area? What insurance companies want you to know
KTVI-TV (St. Louis, MO)
ST. LOUIS - Historic rainfall hit the St. Louis region Tuesday morning. Flash flooding has ravaged cars, homes and businesses within the city, county and beyond.
The FOX2 weather team tracked as much as 11 inches of rain Tuesday in St. Charles County and nearly 10.5 inches in Clayton, the highest reported total in St. Louis County. Heavy rain has also hit Metro East communities in Illinois.
Flooded car considerations
If your car ended up submerged in water due to flash flooding Tuesday morning, insurance companies want you to keep a few things in mind to avoid a costly situation or more damage to your vehicle.
In some cases, floodwaters contain raw or untreated sewage and other contaminants that may pose serious health hazards during cleanup. Unless every part is thoroughly cleaned and dried, inside and out, cars could see corrosion or other problems crop up weeks or even months after the flooding.
State Farm recommends the following advice for flooded cars:
* DO NOT start a flooded vehicle until it has received a thorough inspection by a qualified mechanic.
* Record the highest level of water exposure on your flooded vehicle.
* Check for any signs of rust, discoloration, mildew, stains, electrical system issues or direct and sand and places that aren't normally cleaned. Log any observable damages.
* Contact your agent or insurance company and advise them that your vehicle has been flooded. The sooner the vehicle can be evaluated and dried out, the less damage the vehicle will sustain.
* Contact a professional for cleanup.
AAA recommends the following advice for flooded cars:
* First step should be to contact your insurance company for help in determining the best course of action.
* Never attempt to start a flood-damaged car until a qualified technician performs a thorough vehicle inspection.
* Make sure the technician inspects mechanical components and systems that contain fluids for water contamination.
* Make sure the technician drains floodwater from contaminated components and systems, flush with clean water or an appropriate solvent, and then refill systems with the proper new fluids.
* Clean and dry electrical system components and connections.
Flooded home considerations
When it comes to flooding at your home, damage from flooding is not covered by traditional homeowner's insurance. Flood insurance is provided by the federal government and serviced by FEMA.
State Farm recommends the following advice for flooded homes:
* If your house is flooded, do not wade through the water until the electricity and gas have been shut off. Contact an electrician if the circuit breaker and gas line are located.
* Take pictures once the water has receded of all damaged items, drywall, and anything else damaged by the flood.
* Do not throw out any items damaged. Allow the claims professional to come in and assess first.
* Do not turn on wet appliances.
* Throw away spoiled food. Toss perishables as well as any food that has come in contact with flood or storm water.
* Avoid tap water. Public water may be contaminated after a severe storm. Use bottled water for drinking, washing hands and dishes, brushing teeth and making ice.
* Use generators safely. If you have a portable generator, only run it outdoors with adequate ventilation. Never use a generator indoors or in attached garages. The exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide, which can be deadly if inhaled.
* When it is safe to do so, have a contractor help with temporary repairs to prevent further damage to your home or property.
* Save receipts if you purchase items (such as tarps, plywood or other supplies) to make repairs.
* Take photos/videos of damage for claim documentation.
* To get the claims process started, you can file your claim with your insurance company.
You can also check on insurance and flood coverage through the Missouri Department of Insurance Conusmer Hotline at 800-726-7390. Click here for more information.
Any storm damage in the city of St. Louis should be reported to the non-emergency number 314-622-4800. If outside the city, check with your local county's non-emergency line to report flood damage. Down power lines should be reported to Ameren online or call them at 800-552-7583.