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2 March 2023

Your rights if your car has been flood-damaged

We tell you your rights if your car was damaged by the flood.

Flood car rights

If your vehicle has been water damaged

Drying out your vehicle doesn’t make it safe to drive. There’s a likelihood of damage to the vehicle’s electronic and mechanical safety systems making it unfit for the road.

Waka Kotahi, NZTA, strongly encourages people not to attempt to fix vehicles themselves, drive or on-sell a water-damaged vehicle.

If your vehicle is insured

You should contact your insurance company who will arrange for your vehicle to be assessed and will work with you to repair the vehicle or write it off and settle your claim.

If the vehicle is written off, it is deregistered, and the Motor Vehicle Register is updated with the reason for the write-off, then disposed of through damaged vehicle auctions. You can find more information on the Insurance Council of New Zealand website.

How long before a pay out?

If your car has been written off, your insurer will then begin to process your settlement. However, the time it takes to receive the money owed from the settlement can vary, depending on the circumstances of the write-off and whether you dispute the write-off decision.

You can also raise a dispute about the settlement amount, if you believe the car is worth more than your insurer is offering, which can slow down the process.

If your vehicle is not insured

If your vehicle is not insured, it’s recommended you have a qualified automotive technician complete a thorough inspection of the vehicle. They may recommend you take it to a specialist repair certifier.

  • Do not continue to drive the vehicle. It may seem fine on the outside, but water damage can jeopardize the safety of your vehicle.
  • Ask for a quote so you can make an informed decision about the cost of repair versus the value of the vehicle.
  • If it's not worth repairing the vehicle, you should take the vehicle to a reputable panel beater or seller of car parts and disclose the water damage, so they dispose of the vehicle correctly.
  • Notify Waka Kotahi of a water-damaged vehicle so the agency can keep a record of it. Email them at: [email protected]
  • If you have your vehicle repaired, it must be repaired safely. The repairs need to be undertaken by a reputable repairer who will ensure repairs are carried out to the manufacturer’s repair specifications. Details of it being flood damaged and repaired will stay on its record.

RepairCert NZ has more guidance on how to deal with water-damaged vehicles here.

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