Automotive Hurricane Harvey Relief, Warnings & Gas Finding

Hurricane Harvey is wreaking havoc on the Gulf Coast. Automakers have made donations and offered financing deferments. Today, more automakers are offering releif, NCIB issues warns car buyers and GasBuddy offers a way to find gasoline. It is predicted that gas prices could increase as much as 35 cents a gallon while refineries remain offline.

GasBuddy Tracks Available Fuel

Hurricane Harvey shuts down refineries in the nation’s largest refining hub and the strain on fuel supply continues to rise across the country.

GasBuddy has activated its gas availability tracker to help motorists in affected areas find gasoline:

Consumers can report the status – “Has Fuel,” No Fuel,” or “No Power” – at any gas station to help others. Currently, the tracker shows a number of stations throughout Texas affected by the Hurricane and without fuel, including stations in Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio.

Users who have the free GasBuddy smartphone app can receive push notifications on rising gas prices in their areas.

NCIB Warns Car Buyers

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is warning the nation’s consumers that vehicles flooded by Hurricane Harvey may soon be appearing for sale around the nation.

After a disaster, NICB works with its member companies, law enforcement and auto auction companies to identify the vehicles that have had an insurance claim filed and to process them for sale. All of the cars, deemed to be a total loss, will be retitled with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the new title will indicate the fact that the vehicle has been flood damaged. Most of the vehicles are sold to parts’ companies who will dismantle them and re-sell usable parts that were not damaged by the flooding.

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is also entered into the NICB’s VINCheck and the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) database.

NICB’s VINCheck allows car buyers to see whether a vehicle has ever been declared as “salvage” or a total loss by an NICB member that participates in the program. Insurers representing about 88 percent of the personal auto insurance market provide their salvage data to the program. It also alerts users if a vehicle has been stolen and is still unrecovered.

Keeping damaged cars out of the hands of unsuspecting buyers is a major focus of the industry. Unfortunately, some of the flooded vehicles may be purchased at bargain prices, cleaned up, and then taken out of state where the VIN is switched and the car is retitled with no indication it has been damaged.

NICB warns that buyers be particularly careful in the coming weeks and months as thousands of Harvey-damaged vehicles may reappear for sale in their areas. Vehicles that were not insured may be cleaned up and put up for sale by the owner or an unscrupulous dealer with no disclosure of the flood damage.

Buyers should have a vehicle checked by a reputable mechanic or repair facility before handing over any cash.

For free consumer access to the vehicle salvage records of participating NICB member insurance companies who collectively provide 88 percent of the auto insurance in force today, access NICB’s VINCheck.

Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800-TEL-NICB (800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411).

Subaru Donation

Subaru of America, Inc. announced today its donation of $100,000 to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, through its ongoing support of the American Red Cross. As a platinum member of the American Red Cross Ready 365 Giving Program, Subaru already contributes $100,000 annually to support Red Cross’ proactive response to disaster relief efforts. Due to the extreme severity of Hurricane Harvey, the automaker is matching its annual support with an additional donation to help bring aid to those affected in the Gulf Coast. Subaru will also donate vehicles to the Red Cross at a later date to further assist in recovery efforts.

Furthermore, Subaru of America Foundation has enhanced its existing matching gifts program to establish a way for SOA employees to help support relief and recovery efforts in Texas and Louisiana. Through the program, employee donations to eligible organizations actively responding to Hurricane Harvey will be matched on a $2/$1 basis for this relief effort.

To assist Subaru customers directly affected by Hurricane Harvey, Subaru Motors Finance is waiving or refunding late fees for auto accounts through September 10. Subaru Motors Finance is also providing payment options if customers are having trouble making monthly payments. Customers should call the special-care line at 1-888-356-0023 (select option 4 for auto) to make those arrangements. Additionally, Subaru of America is offering $500 toward the purchase or lease of a new Subaru vehicle for customers whose vehicle was damaged as a result of the hurricane and flooding.

Daimler Mercedes-Benz Donations

In a joint effort Daimler AG’s US based subsidiaries Mercedes-Benz USA, Mercedes-Benz US International, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services and Daimler Trucks North America support the population in southern U.S. states affected by Hurricane Harvey. The companies donate 1 million US-Dollar in total to the distressed population coping with the storm’s catastrophic impact. The donation will be spend to American Red Cross and will be used for immediate disaster relief, emergency assistance and other services needed by the victims of the hurricane.

The American Red Cross is working around the clock in Houston, Texas and other affected cities and states to help the thousands of people whose lives have been devastated. The hurricane is one of the biggest rainstorms in the history of the United States and has left a path of destruction and flooded areas. An estimated 30,000 people will need temporary shelter and financial assistance.