Car insurance claims increase

Jun 17th, 2008 | By Hot News Reporter | Category: Insurance Today

While most flood-damage claims in Wisconsin have been for homes and businesses, insurers are starting to see more claims for waterlogged automobiles and trucks.

Representatives for two of Wisconsin’s major auto insurers say they have begun to see new claims coming in for flood-damaged autos and trucks headed for the salvage yard.

At American Family Insurance, the state’s largest auto insurer, claims on more than 300 cars were logged as of Friday, according to American Family spokesman Steve Witmer.

At State Farm, the state’s second-largest auto insurer, more than 377 claims for autos or trucks have been recorded so far this month, company spokeswoman Kelly Savage said.

With more claims expected in the days and weeks ahead, state Department of Transportation officials say there are provisions in place to help would-be consumers avoid buying autos that are water damaged.

Under normal circumstances, a car owner with a water-damaged vehicle will call his or her insurance agent to make a claim. The agent will examine the vehicle and give the car owner a check for the damage.

The insurance agent is supposed to take the title to the car and retitle the vehicle under the insurance company’s name. Under Wisconsin law, the vehicle is then branded as a flood-damaged car. If the car cannot be repaired, the title also will reflect the car is salvage.

According to DOT official Steve Krieser, information on each car is recorded on the agency’s computer system and relayed to the National Motor Vehicle Titling Information System.

That should prevent the problems that cropped up after Hurricane Katrina, when thousands of water-damaged vehicles were cleaned up and shipped to other parts of the country for resale.

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