Vehicle flood damage bill advances

Lawmakers gave first-round approval Jan. 14 to a bill intended to protect consumers from unknowingly purchasing flood damaged vehicles.

As introduced by Lincoln Sen. Bill Avery, LB446 would amend the Motor Vehicle Certificate of Title Act to provide a definition of a water-damaged vehicle.

Avery said the measure was intended to address concerns that flood damaged vehicles may be brought into Nebraska for sale without buyers knowing of the damage. He said the state currently has no provision for titling vehicles as flood damaged.

“Flood damaged cars are often sold at insurance auctions,” Avery said, and then cosmetically cleaned and resold to unsuspecting consumers. “They might actually look brand new, but the working parts are damaged and just waiting to break down,” he said.

A Transportation and Telecommunications Committee amendment, adopted 37-0, replaced the bill and would add flood damaged vehicle to the definition of salvage within the Act.

As amended, the bill would define a flood damaged vehicle as one that has been submerged in water to the point that rising water has reached over the floorboard, entered the passenger compartment and caused damage to any electrical, computerized or mechanical components.

The designation of flood damaged would not apply to a water-damaged vehicle in which no electrical, computerized or mechanical components were damaged by water or to a vehicle in which damaged components were repaired or replaced as indicated by an insurance claim representative or vehicle repairer.

Under the bill, any vehicle designated as flood damaged would receive a salvage title.

Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers supported the bill, calling it the type of consumer protection that lawmakers should be eager to engage in.

“This is not undue governmental intervention,” he said. “This is what the government ought to do.”

LB446 advanced to select file on a 40-0 vote.

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