10,000 Flood-Damaged Vehicles Could Be Hazardous to Buyers

Updated on
Texas Floods
Vehicles left stranded on flooded Interstate 45 in Texas on May 26. Photographer: Aaron M. Sprecher/AFP/Getty Images

As many as 10,000 vehicles may have been damaged in last month’s catastrophic Texas floods, and some could be resold out of state to unsuspecting buyers, according to a group that works to prevent insurance fraud.

About 2,500 cars, trucks, motorcycles and recreational vehicles have already been towed to a facility run by Copart Inc. in Houston, the National Insurance Crime Bureau said Friday in a statement. Dallas-based Copart works with insurers to salvage and resell vehicles.

Record rainfall and severe storms from May 23 to May 30 killed 28 people in Texas, and contributed to $3 billion in U.S. storm-related economic losses last month, insurance broker Aon Plc said. The NICB said that flooded vehicles are given new titles to document the damage and are usually sold for parts. Some are peddled by unscrupulous dealers.

“Vehicles may be purchased at bargain prices, cleaned up, and then taken out of state,” the bureau said. “NICB warns that buyers be particularly careful in the weeks and months after a major catastrophe.”

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. and Allstate Corp. are among the biggest car insurers in Texas, according to data compiled by A.M. Best Co. The NICB, based in Des Plaines, Illinois, is an industry group dedicated to detecting and preventing fraud and auto theft.

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