How do you know if your vehicle was one of the unfortunate victims of a flood or hurricane?
It is possible that these flood-damaged vehicles will be cleaned up and sold before their titles reflect such damage. By the time you find out, months may pass and you will have to discover and pursue legal recourses that may be available. It would be better to discover this information prior to purchasing the vehicle. There is a solution from an unlikely source.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is providing unprecedented access to its database to allow consumers to check a vehicle identification number (VIN) to see if it has hurricane-related damage. The information is free but does not include the type or amount of damage — only that a claim is associated with that VIN number.
Their agreement is significant to consumers as this information is not normally available to the public. Unlike CarFax and AutoCheck, which get their information from public sources, such as police reports and motor vehicle departments, the NICB’s data comes directly from the source — the insurers that pay the claims.
There are two major limitations with the information the NICB is providing.
The first is that you will only find out if the VIN is associated with a claim. Consumers are not given access to the specifics of the claim, such as the type of damage or the amount paid. Vehicles that received minor damage such as scratches by tree branches will be flagged exactly the same way as a car that was completely submerged in water and raw sewage. These vehicles should be carefully inspected by a competent mechanic to determine the extent of damage.
The second limitation is that not all entities that are members of the NICB have agreed to allow their claims information to be searched. Even so, the ability to search just part of the NICB’s database is an enormous benefit to consumers that they simply cannot get anywhere else.
The NICB members participating in this database are:
- Direct General
- Farmers Insurance
- Insurance Auto Auctions
- Imperial Fire & Casualty
- Liberty Mutual
- Progressive Safe Auto
- Safeway Insurance of Louisiana
- St. Paul Travelers
- State Farm
- The Hartford
- The Republic Group
- TM Claims Service
- U.S. Agencies
If you discover your VIN in this database, contact us for help filing a claim. Even if the vehicle was not totaled, it is possible to collect for Diminished Value.