to Protect Yourself
Though the terrible winds and rains
have passed for now, law enforcement officials insist that the
danger of Natural Disasters is not yet over violent storms
and other disasters hit the United States all the time and this
can lead to fraud and potential health hazards in the resale of
vehicles damaged in them.
Insurance companies often crush
these cars that were damaged beyond repair, but the rest, as
routinely happens after disasters will simply be sent to other
states for resale. After all, different state laws make it easy
to obtain a clean title in one state for a vehicle that has
been given a "flood" or "salvage" title in another.
The damage done by these disasters
are anything but typical. Vehicles can sit for days in fuel and
sewage contaminated floodwaters as they did in New Orleans.
They could have been turned into biohazards on wheels,
according to the non-profit Coordinating Committee for
Let the buyer beware.
It is more important than ever that
consumers look into the histories of used cars they are
considering for purchase, as well as carefully examining them
for any signs of water or other serious damage.
In the case of hurricane and flood
damaged cars the dangers have been spelled out by the Committee
and include a warning that contaminated sludge could be present
in a vehicles doors, gas tanks, rocker panels or frame rails.
Dangerous pathogens like E. coli could also have found a home
in interior trim and carpets.
The number of cars typically
damaged in these disasters guarantees that the risk could
spread far and wide. Vehicle "History Check" companies,
estimates that more than a half million cars may have been
damaged by Katrina alone, and Louisiana officials admit that
300,000 of those may have been from New Orleans proper.
Help is available, however. The
National Insurance Crime Bureau currently lists more than
60,000 damaged vehicles on a registry posted to their web site.
To track the history of a vehicle on the NICB website,
consumers simply enter a vehicles 17-digit Vehicle
Identification Number (or VIN) to find out whether it is among
those listed as damaged by these natural disasters.
The Crime Bureau, a nonprofit
organization dedicated to fighting auto theft and insurance
fraud typically works with the States to develop and maintain
the vehicle registry database. Though it will never be totally
complete, the database grows larger every day.
Before considering the purchase of
a used automobile, we highly recommend that you perform a free
vehicle records check using the tools provided on our
then consider whether you want to purchase a full vehicle
history. Although the information contained in these databases
is not perfect, it can afford you an added level of comfort
about your next used car purchase.