(WSVN) - The rain we had this month left many drivers stranded and their cars flooded. Now, those drivers are now dealing with their insurance companies, and in some cases are being told, “We won’t pay for the damage.” The drivers say that’s wrong, and that’s why they are calling Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
This month, South Florida has seen pouring rain, flooded streets and stranded drivers.
Eddie Lopez would soon also be hooked to a tow truck in Miami Beach.
Eddie Lopez, car was flooded: “There were cars parked already, and obviously, it was a driveway with an open fence. I thought it was a parking lot.”
Eddie was driving this 2015 Camaro he had borrowed from a friend.
Eddie also couldn’t see that there was a steep drop from the sidewalk to the lot. He then pulled in.
Eddie Lopez: “The water was real deep, and by the time I saw, the water was actually coming inside the car.”
Eddie tried to get the car out of the lot.
Eddie Lopez: “But the moment I tried to drive a little bit more, it just kept getting deeper. I stopped the car, I got out of the car, and the water was already, like, completely flooded inside.”
Eddie took pictures of the mess.
Eddie Lopez: “When I got out, there was already water all over the floor of the car, inside the seats. Literally, when I got out of the car, water was past my knees.”
He called his friend to let her know about her car. They both then called United Automobile Insurance in Miami Gardens, where she has comprehensive and collision insurance.
Eddie Lopez: “The claim’s department came to the conclusion they weren’t going to pay for the damages.”
Patrick Fraser: “Because?”
Eddie Lopez: “Basically, I caused the damage to the car.”
All this damage and an insurance company saying, “We’re not paying anything.”
Eddie Lopez: “My first reaction was, ‘My goodness. I feel terrible.'”
Well, Howard, legally, can United Insurance refuse to pay for the damage?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “It depends. Many insurance companies would pay for this, but some, like United, have a clause that says they are not responsible if you drive into a flooded area. But you can fight this in court, because if a judge looked at this, they would have to decide if the area was flooded and should have been avoided, or just standing water like Eric says, that hid a hole on the property he could not see.”
While we were talking to Eddie, an adjuster from United Automobile Insurance came to inspect the car.
Two days later, they made it official, sending this letter refusing to pay for the damage, in one sentence saying, “The vehicle was being used for business purposes.”
Eddie says that’s not true at all.
Then, in another paragraph, saying Exclusion 25 says they, ‘Will not pay because of damage resulting from driving through a flooded area.'”
I called the president of United Automobile Insurance, their attorney and the employee who wrote the letter. No one returned any calls.
Howard Finkelstein: “Check your policy, because more and more insurance companies are adding this type of flood clause to avoid having to pay. I know the policies are long and complicated, but take a good look at it. If it has too many loopholes to protect the insurance company, it might be time for you to look for a new insurance company.”
Eddie Lopez: “I feel terrible.”
The Camaro now just sits, water still on the floor, and Eddie still stunned at what has happened.
Eddie Lopez: “When you pay for ‘full coverage insurance,’ you expect to be insured. And if somebody needs to borrow your car, you expect for that person to be covered as well.”
Eddie and his friend are not giving up. And if they win in court, the insurance company will not only have to pay for the car, they’ll have to pay for Eddie and his friend’s attorney’s fees. We will keep on this and help them any way we can.
Also, if you feel your insurance company has not acted properly, file a complaint with the State of Florida. Let them dig into it.
Facing a flood of problems that are soaking you? Want to insure you get some help? Contact us. We will leave you high and dry, in a good way.
TO FILE A COMPLAINT ABOUT AN INSURANCE COMPANY:
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