If you’re like thousands of other Florida Keys residents, your car was damaged or totaled because of Category 4 Hurricane Irma, through either physical damage or saltwater intrusion to the auto’s electronics.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau has tracked 48,000 vehicle insurance claims since Sept. 15 in states affected by the storm, according to insurancequotes.com . How many of those have been deemed total losses is unknown.
Frank Scafidi, spokesman for the National Insurance Crime Bureau, warned people looking to buy a new or used car to question the salesman and check for a mildew smell and any signs of electronic damage. A car may appear to be fine, but sooner or later flood damage will be costly, he said.
“Saltwater is nothing to mess around with,” said Jack Niles, owner of Niles Sales and Service in Key West. “If you have water in your floor boards, you need to call your insurance agent.”
The dealership at 3500 N. Roosevelt Blvd. lost about 10 percent of its inventory of 200 cars because of Irma, a blessing in comparison to Hurricane Wilma in 2005, which robbed the dealership of 90 percent of its inventory.
“We have some extra cash for anyone that may have lost a vehicle because of Irma and the good news is that from this storm, the majority of our cars survived because we got them up high,” Niles said, adding about 20 have been sold in the last week.
The Key West Kia dealership has had truckloads of new cars shipped to the Lower Keys following Irma. Salesman Ivan Antonov said about 10 have been sold in the last four days.
Kia is offering $750 on any new 2017 or 2018 Kia vehicle through January 2018 to any customer in Florida (and other states) whose vehicle was damaged as a result of Irma.
Seeing as how cars were damaged in Marathon and the Lower Keys and buyers might not have a way to get to the Middle and Lower Keys dealerships, paperwork can be done over the phone and the car will be delivered.
“We bring all the paperwork and we drop the car off right to the house instead of them having to come to the dealership,” said Alex Ruiz, finance manager of Key West Kia, 2826 N. Roosevelt Blvd.
The Middle Keys Kia dealership is at mile marker 50.5 oceanside in Marathon.
Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219