How To Identify A Flood Damaged Vehicle From Hurricane Sandy Part I

cars under water

We’ve spent some time talking about what happens to Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina damaged vehicles. But if you have not read those posts, here is a quick snapshot. It’s an unfortunate and unnerving fact that there are thousands of these vehicles from these Hurricanes that are making it into our dealerships and being resold to our consumer market. There is no warning and the title has been washed. Legislation has been trying to pass a law requiring insurance companies to be more honest in their assessment of these vehicle’s, meaning to not pass these vehicle’s as anything other than totaled. State Farm has since entered an agreement as part of a plea deal after having bilked over 30,000 into buying these horribly damaged vehicle’s. When I say thousands, more than 250,000 from Hurricane Sandy alone. The fact that there are dishonest sellers, including dealerships, is unsettling. It’s not just the dealerships, it’s also happening in the private sector. No matter where you go, or who you talk to, you must equip yourself with knowledge, and stay informed.

The worse offense is when someone takes one of these vehicles, cleans it up, and then sells it to an unknowing victim. The National Insurance Crime Bureau is most concerned about these type of sales, but it doesn’t stop there. Some of these vehicle’s sat in four feet of flood water and sewage for days, many, many days; leaving the cars moldy and mildewed. These abusers of the law will get titles that have been “Title Washed”, these will buy the damaged cars on the East Coast and then travel to another state whose laws are lax and get new, clean titles. These vehicle’s, nationwide, have got to be scrutinized and caught before there is an unknowing buyer duped by the seller. This is the goal, but in the meantime……..



East Coast Hurricane Sandy’s Devastating Damage To Vehicles Part II

Superstorm Sandy

Perhaps one of the very worse outcomes for the general public, is when the vehicles are sent out of state for the resale markets. Throughout the country, state laws and their inconsistencies, will prevent the information with regards to these vehicles ever getting to the consumer. Even though these vehicles were deemed a total loss by insurance companies, it’s quite easy for dealerships to sell these vehicles without alerting the consumer that this is a vehicle that was completely submerged under seawater. Some dealerships will simply say they didn’t know if you call them on it. There are of course some dealerships that really didn’t know. I’m sure you would agree that it is the responsibility of the dealership to be educated on what to look for when purchasing these vehicles from auction. 

Legislative efforts have been drawn up at the state and federal levels, but even they have failed to stem the resale market. The Insurance Crime Bureau has said that over 230,000 cars were damaged by the hurricane, no surprise, predominantly by the ocean water that surged into seaside communities, filling engines and interiors with sand and corrosive saline.

Hurricane Sandy survivors had lined up scores of dead cars all along Cross Bay Boulevard and at crazy angles for weeks after the storm. These served as a reminder of the brute strength of the waves. Even in Lower Manhattan, car owners returned to expensive parking garages on to find their high-end cars were floating in a soup of sewage and river water. Even FBI and Secret Service lost cars. Hurricane Sandy knew no discrimination on who and what it destroyed.

As a PDR Technician, you will need to be able to consult with your customer’s and lead them into buying vehicles that were not in this hurricane and teach them what to look for when buying used cars. These will certainly not be Certified Vehicles so there is that trigger but there are more. Will you know what to do if a customer has a vehicle such as this? How about how to recondition what can be? Follow me in this series and we’ll equip you with the knowledge going forward on what to do.

*Picture from Associated Press.