Law enforcement agencies and insurers are making progress in accounting for thousands of vehicles that were flooded by Superstorm Sandy so the cars don't end up on the market and sold to unwary buyers, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) says.
An estimated 230,000 insured vehicles were damaged. Many of the vehicles have been towed to holding areas, where they are being identified, loaded on car haulers and taken to facilities to be crushed.
NICB member insurance companies have provided extra resources to tow damaged vehicles and dispose of them, and are working with the bureau to ensure all of the vehicles' Vehicle Identification Numbers are reported to the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.
These efforts prevent unscrupulous dealers from cleaning up the cars and selling them as if they hadn't sustained damage. Flooded cars can have hidden engine and electrical problems.
"No one should be driving a car that's been sitting in four feet of water. It's unsafe. But people who will sell you a car like that aren't worried about your safety," NICB President and CEO Joe Wehrle said in a press statement.
Law enforcement officials are also going after towing companies that have taken cars off the street without permission and are submitting inflated towing and storage bills to insurance companies. The bureau said some companies may be holding the vehicles to increase storage fees, or claim title to vehicles that sit at their facilities for extended periods.
A NICB video report provides more information about efforts to prevent Sandy scams.