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Beware lies about cars damaged in flood



Date published: 11/9/2012

BY TOM KRISHER

AP Auto Writer

DETROIT

--In the days since Superstorm Sandy, an alarming prediction has flashed across the Internet: Hundreds of thousands of flood-damaged vehicles will inundate the nation's used-car market, and buyers might not be told which cars have been ruined.

Not true, according to insurance-claims data reviewed by The Associated Press. The actual number of affected vehicles is far smaller, and some of those cars will be repaired and kept by their owners. The dire predictions are being spread by a company that sells vehicle title and repair histories and by the largest group representing American car dealers.

They claim the number of cars marred by Sandy could be larger than when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005 and damaged more than 600,000 vehicles. But an AP analysis of claims data supplied by major insurance companies shows the total number of damaged cars is a fraction of that.

The companies--State Farm, Progressive, New Jersey Manufacturers and Nationwide--have received about 31,000 car-damage claims.

"It's not anything near what we're talking about in the Katrina situation," said James Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, a statewide association.