Car buyers beware: GEICO says be on the lookout for flood-damaged cars after Hurricane Matthew

Washington, D.C., Nov. 5, 2016 – Hurricane Matthew blew in last month with damaging winds, heavy rainfall and high storm surges, and it may have left behind hundreds of flood-damaged vehicles on auto sales lots.

GEICO says you definitely don't want one of those, no matter how good the price is.

If you're about to start shopping for a used car, GEICO offers these five tips to help consumers avoid purchasing a flood-damaged vehicle:

  1. Examine the vehicle for obvious signs of flood damage. Check the car for strong disinfectant odors used to mask mold. Also, look for water stains, standing water, and signs of rust. Brand new upholstery or recently shampooed carpets may also be signs of flood damage.
  2. Obtain a detailed car history report. Visit the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) or other online sources such as Carfax.com to verify car history, past ownership, accident history, liens, maintenance and prior water damage. A fee may be associated with some history report services, so be sure to shop around for the best option to fit your needs.
  3. Perform a VIN check. Use the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) VIN check tool to help determine if a vehicle has been reported stolen or salvaged. This feature can be accessed for free on the NICB website. Compare the VIN found on the car with all documents and records for consistency.
  4. Review all title and ownership documents. Access the NMVTS website to review title documents and other important vehicle information. Make sure that the seller's information matches what is listed on the title to confirm ownership.
  5. Have a professional mechanic inspect vehicle. Take the vehicle to a trusted mechanic to inspect it for any signs of water damage before making a purchase.

GEICO flood damaged car infographic

GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies and is the second-largest private passenger auto insurance company in the United States. GEICO, which was founded in 1936, provides millions of auto insurance quotes to U.S. drivers annually. The company is pleased to serve more than 14 million private passenger customers and insures more than 23 million vehicles (auto & cycle).

Using GEICO's online service center, policyholders can purchase policies, make policy changes, report claims and print insurance ID cards. Policyholders can also connect to GEICO through the GEICO App, reach a representative over the phone or visit a GEICO local agent.

GEICO also provides insurance quotes on motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), boats, travel trailers and motorhomes (RVs). Coverage for life, homes and apartments is written by non-affiliated insurance companies and is secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency. Commercial auto insurance and personal umbrella protection are also available.

For more information, go to www.geico.com.