Don’t Fall Victim to Natural Disasters

Here's How to Protect Yourself

Though the terrible winds and rains have passed for now, law enforcement officials insist that the danger of Natural Disasters is not yet over violent storms and other disasters hit the United States all the time and this can lead to fraud and potential health hazards in the resale of vehicles damaged in them.

Insurance companies often crush these cars that were damaged beyond repair, but the rest, as routinely happens after disasters will simply be sent to other states for resale. After all, different state laws make it easy to obtain a clean title in one state for a vehicle that has been given a "flood" or "salvage" title in another.

The damage done by these disasters are anything but typical. Vehicles can sit for days in fuel and sewage contaminated floodwaters as they did in New Orleans. They could have been turned into biohazards on wheels, according to the non-profit Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair.

Let the buyer beware.

It is more important than ever that consumers look into the histories of used cars they are considering for purchase, as well as carefully examining them for any signs of water or other serious damage.

In the case of hurricane and flood damaged cars the dangers have been spelled out by the Committee and include a warning that contaminated sludge could be present in a vehicles doors, gas tanks, rocker panels or frame rails. Dangerous pathogens like E. coli could also have found a home in interior trim and carpets.

The number of cars typically damaged in these disasters guarantees that the risk could spread far and wide. Vehicle "History Check" companies, estimates that more than a half million cars may have been damaged by Katrina alone, and Louisiana officials admit that 300,000 of those may have been from New Orleans proper.

Help is available, however. The National Insurance Crime Bureau currently lists more than 60,000 damaged vehicles on a registry posted to their web site. To track the history of a vehicle on the NICB website, consumers simply enter a vehicles 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (or VIN) to find out whether it is among those listed as damaged by these natural disasters.

The Crime Bureau, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting auto theft and insurance fraud typically works with the States to develop and maintain the vehicle registry database. Though it will never be totally complete, the database grows larger every day.

Before considering the purchase of a used automobile, we highly recommend that you perform a free vehicle records check using the tools provided on our website and then consider whether you want to purchase a full vehicle history. Although the information contained in these databases is not perfect, it can afford you an added level of comfort about your next used car purchase.