Portland flooding triggers insurance claims


A lot of people who got stuck driving through high water, or their property flooded, are now dealing with insurance companies to get reimbursed.

But what’s covered and what’s not? If you intentionally drove through high water and flooded your car’s engine, is that treated the same as if you were parked on the street, and backed-up storm drains sent water in? Insurance experts tell us, generally yes, both are usually covered under car policies, but you need to double check with your agent.

Several small business owners who work in the Olympic Mills Commerce Center building, in the industrial district of Southeast Portland, are finding out what’s covered after nearly two feet of storm water rushed into their underground parking garage.

It’s not easy for Kisar Dhillon to look at his car. “I’m devastated! It’s my baby, it’s my Porsche,” Dhillon said.

His 2000 Carrera 4 is dead and now smells from water damage.

“It was about up to the top of the wheels, 18 inches,” he demonstrated Monday. “So when it actually subsided it was 12-15 inches, so that’s why my whole car got flooded, because it was above the door entrance.”

Inside, filled up to the leather seats, is a mix of dirty rain, sewage water and used restaurant cooking oil from when the water tipped over vats in the basement of Olympic Provisions.

Dhillon, owner of The Art of Personal Training, had just stopped into work Saturday, parking underground with several others.
A look at the inside of Dhillon’s car.

“The storm drain got flooded outside and all the water got backed up in the north elevator and the water was actually 9 feet up as high as it would go, and it just busted the door open and it all came rushing down here,” he said.

His insurance, like most, will cover this kind of terrible luck. But take some advice from County Financial agent Geoff Dorn.

“If the car is parked and it’s wet, I wouldn’t turn it on,” Dorn advised. “I would get it towed somewhere else and have a mechanic deal with it because if you force water into the engine, you could hydro lock the engine.”

It’s the rainwater from outside, flowing into your home or business, that’s only paid by flood insurance. And Dorn says it’s not cheap, or common in the Northwest.

“Flood insurance is a completely different animal,” said Dorn. “You’d have to get a flood insurance plan to cover water coming in from outside your house.”

Dorn says a burst water pipe inside your home is covered by homeowners insurance. He suggests having your agent physically come over and walk around your property to determine if you need flood insurance.


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