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Here’s What to Do If Your Car Was Damaged by Hurricane Harvey or Irma

Seth Angel, the operator of Royal Purple Raceway, a drag-racing facility in Baytown, Texas, had personally seen the damage Hurricane Harvey inflicted on the Houston area and knew he needed to help.

What Angel proposed was both highly helpful—and highly creative: He suspended all racing activities for the track or the rest of 2017, which meant an abrupt halt to his business plans and revenue. Instead, he opened his raceway up as a "storage facility" for tens of thousands of flooded vehicles—all damaged by Harvey.

"When we saw that Hurricane Harvey was headed this way, I got in touch with Alex Napp, who operates another NHRA track—Old Bridge Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.," Angel says. "He assisted similarly during Hurricane Sandy."

"Alex connected me with a company called, to offer our track as a temporary storage facility for car insurance companies," he adds. "We estimate that we will have over 50,000 vehicles stored here through the end of the year as insurance companies work to assess damages. The majority of these vehicles will be resold and auctioned online at CoPart.

To his credit, Angel didn't think twice about helping out with an estimated one million flooded vehicles in hurricane-raved Houston. If you're one of those vehicle owners or have a similar issue in Florida after Hurricane Irma, taking these steps will help to protect your auto investments, whether your car or truck is salvageable or not.

Know Where You Stand

Jared Staver, a Chicago personal injury attorney who handles auto-related accidents, advises taking a "big picture" approach right out of the gate. "There have already been over 100,000 claims on vehicle insurance policies in Texas," he says. "For many people, especially those living in areas with less public transportation options, a working vehicle is essential to their livelihood," Staver advises. "If you have comprehensive coverage, your vehicle is covered, in most cases, if the damages were caused by natural disasters like floods."

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

To make sure the vehicle claim process flows as smoothly as possible, be prepared and act fast, says Staver. "Snap photos and get them to your auto insurance provider as soon as possible," he says. "If your insurance company provides instructions on steps to take to protect your vehicle from further damage, make sure to follow them. Not doing so can give them grounds for denying your claim."

"Push" for a Totaled Vehicle

Flood-damaged cars can often come with a whole host of problems for years to come, says Korey Adekoya, business development manager at Houston-based Shabana Motors. "If you can push to have your insurance company consider the car totaled, do so," Adekoya says. "It will cost money to replace, but it could be cheaper than dealing with issues down the road."

Uninsured? Get Help Here

If your vehicle was damaged by Hurricane Harvey, and you don't have insurance on your vehicle to cover flood loss, contact the Texas HHSC Other Needs Assistance at 1-800-582-5233 to file a claim and apply for grant money, Adekoya states.

Overall, know that it's important to file your claim as soon as possible. "That's because, in all likelihood, the insurance company will be overwhelmed with claims," Adekoya adds.

Take the above steps if your auto was damaged by Harvey, and do so quickly. Your investment in the impacted vehicle may depend on it.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.

This article was originally published on September 14, 2017, and has been updated.

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