Flood-Damaged Cars and Seawater

As we help customers get back on their feet in the midst of Hurricane Harvey, an influx of flood-damaged cars is expected. Obviously water and electronics (like water and oil) don’t mix. Water can be so damaging to vehicles, in fact, that during a previous hurricane we saw our number of total losses jump from an average of 20-22 percent to 60-70 percent with hurricane-related claims.

Insurance explained:
A vehicle is considered a total loss when the repair costs exceed the vehicle’s actual cash value.

That increase in total losses can be explained due to the size and strength of a hurricane and the amount of flooding the storm caused.

How much water damage will total a car

In order for a vehicle to be deemed an “obvious total loss” after being flooded with freshwater, the water has to have reached all the way to the dashboard. But if you replace that freshwater with seawater, it only needs to reach the rocker panel (the area beneath the door) to be considered an “obvious total loss.”

That means your vehicle could be completely destroyed by just 12 inches of seawater. And when you take into account the 13-foot surge that can accompany a hurricane, it’s easy to understand why the total loss rate for vehicles in that area is currently so high.

Why seawater is so hard on cars

Although water is generally a bad thing for your car, seawater is particularly bad because of its high salt content. If you’ve ever lived near the ocean, you know that salt speeds up the rust and corrosion processes.

That being said, however, the damage will not be immediate. A vehicle that’s been flooded will often look perfectly fine once the water is removed and the vehicle has dried out. But don’t be fooled. Water can wreak havoc on your vehicle’s electrical and mechanical systems.

Avoiding water-damaged cars

After an event like a hurricane, there will be many flood damaged cars for sale, and it’s important to know how to avoid ending up with one. Even if floods aren’t a cause for concern in your area, flood-damaged cars are sometimes resold on the opposite side of the country 6-12 months later.

If you’re in the market for a used car (or will be in the next year or so), the only way to really know the full story is to have a qualified mechanic inspect it. You can also run a check on the car’s title history through services like CARFAX. These investigations will help ensure that the car you’re interested in isn’t a flood-damaged lemon in disguise.

We’re always here to help in an event like Hurricane Harvey, but here are few tips on what to do when a storm hits.

Meet the Crash Test Clan

There’s very little mystery behind car safety anymore. These days, the auto industry’s rigorous crash tests reveal almost everything there is to know before ever putting rubber to the road.

There is still a bit of mystery, however, behind those who make these important tests possible in the first place: the crash test dummies.

Clearly, the time has come for answers. So we’re passing around a family newsletter of sorts, introducing you to the modern Crash Test Clan (and how they help keep us safe).

Car seat safety: Hybrid III 10-year-old child

This is one of the latest additions to the Dummy family. “Born” February 2012 at 77.6 lbs (tore right through those footed pajamas), its main function is to measure how well car seats and boosters reduce injuries in a crash for children 65 lbs and up.

(In case you didn’t know, the NHTSA revised their child seat standards back in November 2011, which is one reason this dummy was born.)

Front impact: Hybrid III adult

These are the Dummy elders, some joining the family as far back as 1988. Used in frontal collisions, they come in 3 main forms (a 5th-percentile female, 50th-percentile male, and 95th-percentile male) meant to encompass the majority of driver sizes. For instance, the 5th-percentile female stands at just 4’11’’ while the 95th-percentile male measures 6’2’’. Most motorists fall somewhere in between.

Side impact: BioSID

While many Dummies choose a career in the frontal-impact field, some members of the family opt for the path less taken: side impact. And BioSID is one of them. Originally developed by GM, BioSID spends its days testing the lateral-impact worthiness of vehicles and their potential injury risks. And while a career in side impact might not offer a dummy the same acclaim found in frontal crashes, it does offer one special perk — namely, a torso that can rotate 180 degrees.

Child restraint systems: CRABI infant

In the Dummy family, you’re never too young to start pulling your own weight. In fact, the minute you’re able to sit upright and stare blankly ahead, there’s a position for you. Take the CRABI infants, for example. These 3 models — a 6-, 12-, and 18-month-old — may be young, but they’re already indispensable. They have the vital job of testing the integrity of child-restraint systems. And, prodigies that they are, they simulate impact from all angles, with or without air bag interference, so parents will know just how safe a car is for their baby.

Pedestrian safety: Hybrid III pedestrian

Did you know that some Dummies test pedestrian impact? And not just the impact from cars, either. These models also measure injury potential from run-ins with wheelchairs, recreational vehicles, and sporting gear. Now, if you ask most of the car-bound Dummies, they’d say these are the odd ducks of the family. Then again, with rare, straight-lumbar spines allowing them to stand up, the pedestrian bunch can inspire a lot of jealousy. And, really, what’s a family without a little sibling rivalry?

Related links

How crash test ratings can affect your car insurance
How crash tests work

The evolution of crash test dummies

Virtual crash testing

Helping Hurricane Sandy Survivors Pick Up the Pieces

Hurricane Sandy may be the biggest storm to hit the U.S. (ever). Nearly 1,000 miles in diameter, “Frankenstorm” impacted millions of people from the southern tip of Florida to the U.S./Canadian border. Financial experts estimate $10–20 billion in insured losses and as much as $50 billion in economic damage.

Of course, as an insurance company, here at Esurance we’ve been focused on insured losses as claims from our customers begin to pour in. In the past week or so, our claims teams have worked tirelessly to help customers in affected areas get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

While we never could have predicted an event like Superstorm Sandy, and hope our customers never have to deal with something like this again, Esurance is equipped to handle it. In fact, the day the storm hit, we were ready (and able) to start processing claims.

Hey, we’re an insurance company … it’s what we do.

Making car insurance claims easy

Being an insurance company isn’t just about selling policies. It’s about making sure you can be there for your customers when they need you most. At Esurance, we’ve worked hard to make the claims process as easy and hassle-free as possible.

If you need to file a claim with Esurance, you have 3 round-the-clock options to choose from:

  1. You can call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We understand that accidents happen day and night, so we’re always available. Esurance customers can call 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262) to talk to a real-live expert anytime.
  2. You can file your claim online. Our online claims center has lots of useful info to help you through the process. If you choose to file online, just log into your policy and click the “Claims” tab to get started. It’s as simple as that.
  3. Or you can file your claim on your smartphone. Esurance Mobile, our go-anywhere mobile app, has lots of info for you after an accident and makes it possible to get your claim started anytime, anywhere.

Car insurance is what we do

With easy-to-use online tools, a handy mobile app, and both a Twitter account (@EsuranceCares) and Facebook page that can help customers with their questions and concerns, we’re pushing the envelope on what can be done to make car insurance easier. Plus, we’re also comprised of living, breathing car insurance experts who work 24/7 to field calls from customers, answer their questions, and help them out in any way possible.

While we dig in to help customers through the process, our hearts go out to the millions of people still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. If you or anyone you know has been affected by the storm, here are some resources that can help:

From the Centers for Disease Control

Returning home safely after a flood

How to clean-up after a flood

From the Red Cross

Coping with power outages

Repairing your flooded home (PDF)

Hurricane Sandy: Help those in need

From Esurance

Driving during floods

Information regarding flood damage claims

Your guide to the claims process

FAQs about filing a renters claim

Additional resources

If you have any other resources to share, please let us know by commenting below or on our Facebook page. In the meantime, please stay safe and be well.

Meet Esurance: Casey S.

Meet Esurance: Casey S.

Casey S. is a claims network manager in our Rocklin, California, office. What does that mean exactly? It means that if you file a claim with Esurance, he’s one of the guys who sees it through from start to finish.

A thinker, unflappable, easy-going, friendly, courteous, Casey is perfectly suited to be the liaison between customers, body shops, and claims reps.

Meet Casey for yourself to see just what it takes to make claims smarter and easier …


Related links

Meet Nandini E., director of systems engineering
Meet Derek M., licensed customer service rep
Meet Erin H., customer service rep

Election Day: The Most Dangerous Tuesday to Drive?

Tomorrow, the presidential election will be under way. It’s an exciting time in American politics, when millions of people will drive to their local polling places to rock the vote.

But with so many emotionally-charged, potentially-distracted drivers making the mad dash to vote, it’s also a risky day to be on the roads. Just how dangerous can it be? Let’s find out.

Car accidents increase on Election Day

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the likelihood of being involved in a fatal car crash increases whenever we vote in the presidential election. Researchers first analyzed Election Day car accident statistics taken during polling hours from 1976 to 2004. They then compared those stats with the preceding and following Tuesdays.

Their findings?

  • On each of the 8 presidential election days between 1976 and 2004, an average of 158 people lost their lives in accidents per day
  • On each of the Tuesdays before and after the election, an average 134 fatalities occurred per day

In other words, the risk of a deadly car accident is 18 percent higher when we head to the polls — which technically makes Election Tuesday a more dangerous day to drive than Tax Day.

What makes Election Day dangerous

Unlike other dangerous days to be on the road (New Year’s Eve, Independence Day, Labor Day, etc.), alcohol isn’t a contributing factor. So what is? While it’s impossible to say for sure, researchers cite these 3 factors as the likely culprits:

Distracted driving

Between listening to the radio (a form of cognitive distraction) for the latest election news and tweeting, Facebooking, or texting politically-minded comments, it’s no wonder that drivers on Election Day are distracted.

As we all know, distracted driving is a major cause of car accidents. In fact, in 2010 alone, 416,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, and more than 3,000 were killed.


Historically, presidential elections send more than half of the voting population to the polls. Though 15 percent of registered voters have already cast their ballots by mail, and 18 percent will vote before Election Day, 63 percent of the voting population is still expected to hit the roads tomorrow (the other 4 percent don’t plan on voting).

As many states deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, getting to the polls this year could be more difficult than usual in many places. So plan ahead, expect delays, and give yourself plenty of time to get there and back.


Eighteen states (plus D.C.) don’t give workers paid time off to vote, which means that many who want to cast their ballots have to do so on their own time and dime.

A time and money crunch can lead to speeding (which was a factor in 55 percent of all fatal car accidents in 2009).

Stay safe on Election Day

Whether you’re in a blue state or red, are a Republican or Democrat, please drive safely this Election Day (and thanks for voting).