Flooding in Texas destroyed 10,000 insured vehicles
That’s the current estimate from Copart, a company that works on behalf of insurers to handle the vehicles damaged in catastrophes.
About 2,500 cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs and other vehicles have already been towed to one of Copart’s locations, a 200-acre processing facility in Houston.
After a disaster, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) works with its member companies, law enforcement and companies like Copart to identify the vehicles that have had an insurance claim filed and to process them for sale.
All of the cars will be retitled with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the new title will indicate the fact that the vehicle has been flood damaged. Most of the vehicles are sold to parts companies who will dismantle them and re-sell usable parts that were not damaged by the flooding.
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is also entered into the NICB’s VINCheck and the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) database.
NICB’s VINCheck allows car buyers to see whether a vehicle has ever been declared as “salvage” or a total loss by an NICB member that participates in the program.
Insurers representing about 88 percent of the personal auto insurance market provide their salvage data to the program. It also alerts users if a vehicle has been stolen and is still unrecovered. VINCheck is a free public service available at https://www.nicb.org/theft_and_fraud_awareness/vincheck/vincheck.
Keeping damaged cars out of the hands of unsuspecting buyers is a major focus of the industry. Unfortunately, some of the flooded vehicles may be purchased at bargain prices, cleaned up, and then taken out of state where the VIN is switched and the car is retitled with no indication it has been damaged.
NICB warns that buyers be particularly careful in the weeks and months after a major catastrophe. Vehicles that were not insured may be cleaned up and put up for sale by the owner or an unscrupulous dealer with no disclosure of the flood damage.
Buyers should have a vehicle checked by a reputable mechanic or repair facility before handing over any cash. ■