Flooded, Wrecked Vehicles Pose Consumer Risks Unless Insurers Share Info
Hurricane Season Over, But Katrina Flooded Cars Still Threaten Public
From: Office of Sen. Trent Lott
Hundreds of thousands of automobiles and trucks that were flooded by Katrina are now flooding the county even though they were totaled by insurance companies and should not be on the market to sell. These vehicles are being cleaned up and resold without consumers knowing the history of these vehicles. Legislation requiring insurance companies to disclose the history of totaled cars is what is needed.
Senator Trent Lott and Representative Cliff Stearns have introduced legislation S 3707 and HR 6093 which would help combat the roughly five million vehicles “totaled” last year due to severe damage, flooding or theft, including 580,000 from the Gulf hurricanes alone. Thousands of these vehicles are cleaned up and resold with no history of the cars’ troubled pasts to unsuspecting customers – a problem called “title washing.” News reports around the country have documented that Katrina cars are turning up as far away as Washington state.
Lott is chairman of the Senate Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Subcommittee of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Stern is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Sterns were joined by Representative Charlie Melancon of Louisiana and
representatives of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)
during their Thursday news conference.
Lott says these vehicles represent a double hit on consumers. First, it’s a significant economic risk to buyers of used vehicles who may overpay for a wreck Second, it’s a significant and unnecessary public safety risk to the entire motoring public because more unsafe cars are on the road (i.e. airbags or anti-lock brakes fail). This problem persists because state motor vehicle titling laws are confusing and incomplete, and no central database exists to “red flag” all the problem vehicles. Buyers do not have enough timely access to title data at DMVs or total loss data at insurance companies.