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State has new way to title flood-area cars

October 19, 2018
Illinois new-car dealers with vehicles from declared disaster areas now have an easier way to obtain a clean title: by vouching for the vehicles themselves.
The Illinois secretary of state’s vehicle services department is scrutinizing title applications for vehicles that were registered in regions in the Carolinas that were flooded last month by Hurricane Florence. Scrutiny of vehicles in Hurricane Michael’s more recent path is sure to follow.
Previously, the only way for an Illinois dealer to avoid a salvage title for such a car was to track down whoever owned the car when the flooding occurred and have the past owner declare on a Natural Disaster Disclosure Statement that the vehicle was not affected by the disaster.
The process was even more complicated when dealers obtained vehicles at auctions and the identity of the sought-after owner was withheld.
Under a pilot program started this month, the secretary of state will permit an Illinois franchised dealer to inspect for water damage any vehicle shown in the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s database to be registered in a ZIP code known to have suffered flooding or another disaster. Upon inspection, if the dealer believes the vehicle to be not damaged, the dealer can complete an Affidavit in Lieu of Natural Disaster Disclosure Statement and apply for a clean title.
"The old process was unreasonably difficult for dealers and just caused extra work for (secretary of state employees) without real benefit," said Ernie Dannenberger, director of the Illinois secretary of state’s vehicle services department. "We know that new-car dealers don’t deal in flood cars."
The secretary of state’s heightened scrutiny of vehicles from flooded ZIP codes continues for 12 months after a storm, meaning such examination for flooding of vehicles from ZIP codes impacted by last year’s major hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, only recently eased.