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As many as 10,000 vehicles have been damaged or totaled as a result of the recent flooding in Texas, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The number may actually be higher, as the NICB is counting only vehicles that had been insured. Such vehicles have been or will be sent to a company that specializes in assessing vehicular damage. Some may be scrapped while others will be sold for parts, but all of them will have titles that are forever marked as flood damaged.

What of vehicles that weren't insured at time of the flooding? Well, that's a whole other story, as the NICB reports that unscrupulous sellers sometimes put such vehicles on the used-car market without informing prospective buyers that the vehicles had been flooded.

Thankfully, the NICB has put together a checklist of steps to take when shopping for used vehicles to be sure you aren't duped into buying one that's been flood damaged. Check out the press release below for all the details, but not before watching the video above.

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NICB: Texas Flooding Damages up to 10,000 Insured Vehicles

Processing underway to protect buyers from getting soaked

DES PLAINES, Ill., June 5, 2015 — The recent flooding in Texas means the end of the road for an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 insured vehicles that suffered water damage.

That's the current estimate from Copart, a company that works on behalf of insurers to handle the vehicles damaged in catastrophes. About 2,500 cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs and other vehicles have already been towed to one of Copart's locations, a 200-acre processing facility in Houston.

After a disaster, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) works with its member companies, law enforcement and companies like Copart to identify the vehicles that have had an insurance claim filed and to process them for sale. All of the cars will be retitled with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the new title will indicate the fact that the vehicle has been flood damaged. Most of the vehicles are sold to parts companies who will dismantle them and re-sell usable parts that were not damaged by the flooding.

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is also entered into the NICB's VINCheckā„  and the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) database.

NICB's VINCheck allows car buyers to see whether a vehicle has ever been declared as "salvage" or a total loss by an NICB member that participates in the program. Insurers representing about 88 percent of the personal auto insurance market provide their salvage data to the program. It also alerts users if a vehicle has been stolen and is still unrecovered. VINCheck is a free public service available at www.nicb.org/theft_and_fraud_awareness/vincheck/vincheck.

Keeping damaged cars out of the hands of unsuspecting buyers is a major focus of the industry. Unfortunately, some of the flooded vehicles may be purchased at bargain prices, cleaned up, and then taken out of state where the VIN is switched and the car is retitled with no indication it has been damaged.

NICB warns that buyers be particularly careful in the weeks and months after a major catastrophe. Vehicles that were not insured may be cleaned up and put up for sale by the owner or an unscrupulous dealer with no disclosure of the flood damage.

Buyers should have a vehicle checked by a reputable mechanic or repair facility before handing over any cash.

Consumer Resources
For a free brochure with tips to avoid post-disaster fraud, click here.
For useful checklists, including how to spot flood and salvage vehicle scams and post-disaster contractor repair schemes, click here.
For free consumer access to the vehicle salvage records of participating NICB member insurance companies who collectively provide 88 percent of the auto insurance in force today, access NICB's VINCheck.

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422), texting keyword "fraud" to TIP411 (847411) or submitting a form on our website. Or, download the NICB Fraud Tips app on your iPhone or Android device.

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Head-quartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through data analytics, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,100 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations. NICB member companies wrote $371 billion in insurance premiums in 2013, or more than 78 percent of the nation's property/casualty insurance. That includes more than 93 percent ($168 billion) of the nation's personal auto insurance. To learn more visit www.nicb.org.

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