Harvey Hit Home

Hurricane Harvey hit home for our family. In addition to flood damage to our home, our two cars sustained water damage.  Because we live on a canal that arguably has salt water content, the automobile insurance company decided to declare my car a total loss under the comprehensive policy. However, the total value of the claim they offered to settle is far less than for what the car could have been sold.

Now we have two issues to resolve: First is to determine if the car is indeed a total loss, and if so, the second is upon an agreed value. In a total loss scenario, you have to 1) forfeit the title and physically turnover the vehicle. The insurance company wants you to hand over the signed title which will be forever recorded as a complete loss. Once you accept the money and turnover the title (all of which requires your signature), the car will be picked up by a wrecker, towed to a salvage lot and auctioned to the highest bidder.  2) Just because the insurance company offers a token value for your car doesn’t mean that you must accept it.  You can negotiate to come to an agreed value! Some people take better care of their cars than others. The value depends upon the mileage, maintenance history, accident damage history, and other variables.  For example, was the car garaged (or under a car cover); was it frequently waxed and regularly driven; was the oil regularly changed, and the maintenance schedule followed. The region of the country in which the car resided also makes a difference. An exotic high-performance car may be valued higher in New York or Los Angeles than it would be in a remote town in the desert. The appraised value is calculated based upon what the same car is selling for in your area.

For us, the water damage was more extensive because salt water is more corrosive then fresh water. Note: the quicker you can service a water-damaged car, the better.  However, this usually requires renting a car while yours is in the shop.  In our case, due to the high demand for car rentals, all the units were booked and we are on a waiting list.


You can buy the car back from the insurance company for salvage value. We have to think about this.  Our car still drives well, but it’s having more and more electrical issues.

Hurricane Harvey has created numerous complicated issues that people need help with. I HAVE BEEN THERE not only during Harvey, but also during Hurricane Ike in 2008. You should be aware that there are many alternatives to resolve claim issues.  If you need my help, call me at 281-557-9200.