Louisiana Floods Damage Over 100,000 Cars

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Copart Damged Cars

Louisiana is slowly recovering from historic flooding in the Baton Rouge area that left many people with damaged homes and cars. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) estimates upwards of 100,000 insured vehicles were damaged, which means anyone buying a used car needs to be cautious.

Those numbers include not only privately owned cars but cars that were sitting on lots in new car dealerships. Some dealers temporarily closed due to the flooding and several lost their entire inventory of new cars. Although the number of insured cars affected by the damage is easy to judge as claims are filed, anyone who chooses not to file a claim or who doesn’t have insurance is an unknown. It’s those unknown cars that could be a problem.

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After Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana enacted strict legislation to protect consumers from accidentally purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle. Affected cars are evaluated, and some are processed with a new title that allows them to be sold as water damaged vehicles. Others receive a Certificate of Destruction and have to be crushed or sold for parts.

That’s how things are supposed to work.

Unfortunately, not every car that is flood-damaged is properly reported. Those who are uninsured may try to clean things up and sell their cars. The same is true of those who have insurance but don’t want to file a claim. It’s not legal, but that won’t stop these cars from ending up on the market in the hands of unwitting buyers.

It’s not solely an issue in Louisiana. Flood-damaged cars from that area could make their way anywhere, which means buyers need to be careful no matter where they live. A good first step is running a new car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) through the NICB VinCheck database. This will not only check to see if a vehicle was salvaged but also if it was reported as stolen and not recovered.

That only covers vehicles that were processed through insurance. You still need to do some sleuthing to make sure that your potential new car isn’t one that slipped through unreported.

Looking for a new or used car? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

Make sure you have the car inspected by someone you trust and look for signs of flood damage on your own. Mold, mildew, and sand hidden in the cracks or under the carpet are a bad sign. Faulty door speakers are also a clue as they’re easily damaged by water.

Your best bet is to head to a reputable dealer. They’ll be able to provide paperwork showing the car’s history and are less likely to risk their business trying to sell you a flood-damaged car that’s not as advertised.