The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is warning the nation’s consumers that vehicles flooded by Hurricane Harvey may soon be appearing for sale around the nation.
After a disaster, NICB works with its member companies, law enforcement and auto auction companies to identify the vehicles that have had an insurance claim filed and to process them for sale. All of the cars, deemed to be a total loss, 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: www.nicb.org/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 coming weeks and months as thousands of Harvey-damaged vehicles may reappear for sale in their areas. 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.
- For a free brochure with tips to avoid post-disaster fraud, click here.
- Download useful checklists, including how to spot flood and salvage vehicle scams and post-disaster contractor repair schemes.
- For free consumer access to the vehicle salvage records of participating NICB member insurance companies who collectively provide 88 percent of the auto insurance in force today, access NICB’s VINCheck.