Motor Industry News
As insurance companies count the cost of the torrential rain and flash floods which swept across the country last week motorists have been warned the fallout from the storms is just beginning.
A problem which has become widespread in the United States is now beginning to appear in the UK as an increasing number of vehicles are appearing on the open market after suffering serious weather-related damage.
According to insurance experts reports of storm damage to British cars look set to hit a six year high. In the first three months of this year insurance company Admiral received almost three times as many claims for storm damaged vehicles as they did for the whole of the previous year, and that was before the recent storms.
Vehicle safety experts fear that this higher number of storm damaged vehicles will lead to a mirroring of the criminal activity in the US as unscrupulous individuals attempt to pass off badly repaired or damaged cars as perfect.
“After Hurricane Katrina flood damaged cars started appearing back on the US market at twice their usual rate,” said Roger Powell, General Manager of mycarcheck.com, which has already begun to record an increase in the number of vehicles written off by insurance companies - because of storm damage - re-appearing on the road.
“Such cars may look fine at first glance, but in many cases the safety and electronic systems can be compromised. People need to be aware that these cars will be hitting the market in the next few months.”
Torrential rain across the UK last week caused millions of pounds worth of damage to property as more than two weeks of rain fell in less than two hours in many places. Communities as far afield as Devon, Belfast and central Scotland were deluged with flash floods closing many roads and forcing motorists to abandon their vehicles to the rising waters.
Many vehicles which are damaged by flood waters, falling trees and windswept debris are repairable even though insurance companies may have written them off as uneconomical to fix.
However, problems arise when the repairs are not carried out properly or the seller wants to hide the fact the car has been damaged in order to negotiate a better price.
According to a report published by the American International Automobile Dealers Association the number of flood damaged vehicles in the US rose by 103% between 2002 and 2006, due in no small part to Hurricane Katrina, compared to the previous five-year period.
“While no one is suggesting that storm damage in the UK is on the same scale as the US motorists should be aware that the same unscrupulous practice of selling on damaged cars is becoming more common in this country,” added Mr Powell, spokesman for the vehicle history checking website owned and run by insurance software and technology specialists CDL Group Holdings.
“After a major natural weather event such as we are experiencing in the UK at the moment lots of affected cars will begin showing up for sale all over the country. “
“Some sellers will admit the vehicles have been flooded or suffered storm damage, and the price will reflect that. However some vehicles will be cleaned and repaired to attempt to hide the problems and in some cases those problems could be potentially dangerous! Nobody knows yet how many vehicles have been damaged by the recent storms but most insurance companies are bracing themselves for a large number of claims“.
“People buying second hand cars in an area which has recently been affected by heavy flooding should have their vehicle assessed by a professional mechanic to ensure there is no hidden storm damage to the car,” said a spokesman for Direct Line Insurance yesterday (Sat).
“Once ownership has transferred to the new owner any legacy damage will ultimately be their responsibility to repair and could end up being quite costly.”