(WMC) - Watching the water rise up the doors of flood-swallowed vehicles in our weather coverage makes me cringe.
It also reminds me of my own mistake.
Twenty years ago, I drove my beloved '88 Honda Prelude into a puddle -- that was actually a pond.
Flood waters rushed in like the Poseidon Adventure, and within days, I learned the value of comprehensive coverage in my auto insurance policy. It covered everything, minus my deductible, and helped restore my Prelude.
Without comprehensive coverage, your car's toast in a flood. Liability does not cover flood damage. Only comprehensive covers flood damage.
If you have comprehensive coverage and your vehicle is flooded, consumer advocate site DMV.org suggests taking these steps, in this order:
* TAKE PICTURES, if possible. If water's lapping your overhead light, then obviously you can't take pictures of interior damage. But shoot that muck that's bumper-to-hood. Click away at the soggy floorboards. Get shots of the soaked upholstery. Document the damage.
* CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE AGENT. Here's where your patience is tested. If it's a disaster event like the latest flooding here, you will wait. Maybe days. Maybe weeks ... which gives you time for the next step:
* HAVE A CERTIFIED MECHANIC INSPECT THE VEHICLE AND GIVE A REPAIR ESTIMATE. 'Certified' means ASE-certified (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence). The estimate will give you a leg-up on the claims adjuster and help you keep the adjuster honest.
When the adjuster finally shows, provide copies of the pictures and your mechanic's line-itemed estimate. If your insurance company's worth the premium you pay, the check should be in the mail.