Mechanics and insurance agents give advice if your car is waterlogged

Repair and insurance claim process may take weeks

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Gary Mueller made it home from work Thursday night, but the real journey began when he arrived home at his apartment at Quantum Lake Villas in Boynton Beach.

"My car was half submerged. My car stalled. It's sitting here now, and not starting," said Mueller.

He parked his car off to the side of the road, submerged in water and waited for help around midnight. He sat for three hours until he was rescued.

"I didn't know what to do," Mueller explained. "If I was not rescued by that truck I would have been stuck and prayed for my life."

Other drivers desperate to get to higher ground drove onto berms and banks to avoid the rising water. Some people had nowhere to go. Their car is sitting in several feet of water. 

Many drivers are optimistic their car will be fine once the water recedes and the car dries out. However,  mechanics say that is unlikely.

At A&H Automotive in Delray Beach, owner David Polichena said the engines take in a lot of water. Your speed impacts how bad the damage might be.

"When you drive fast the water hits the engine fast. It sucks in more water," said Polichena.

Damaged cars are already arriving at his shop. He'll check the engine, spark plugs, and electronic components. They will also be drying out the water soaked carpets.

"We have to remove the seats, carpet, padding and put it back together," Polichena explained.

Repairs can cost between $500 and $10,000. Drivers should call their insurance agent, but they'll only be covered if they have full coverage.

"As long as you have comprehensive coverage then you have flood coverage," said Lee Wiglesworth of Wiglesworth-Rindom Insurance.

He suggests you talk with your agent first, and consider your deductible before filing a claim.

When it comes to your home, you may not be as lucky.

"Most people don't realize home insurance is expensive. Auto insurance is expensive. Flood insurance is not expensive. You can get minimal flood coverage for $129 a year. Then you have piece of mind when you are getting a lot of rain like last night," said Wiglesworth.

Insurance agents, mechanics, and tow truck drivers say you need to be patient. The claim and repair process may take weeks. 

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