And if there's one thing Houstonians need, it's cars.
Houston, Texas, is America’s fourth largest city, and owning a car is vital to getting around town. Despite the rise in popularity of Uber and Lyft, some 94.4 percent of Houston households have, on average, 1.8 cars. And now, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, nearly one million of those have been destroyed, according to Wired and Cox Automotive. We previously reported that up to 250,000 cars could be re-sold out-of-state despite sustaining flood damage. That’s just one part of a much bigger problem.
With 40,000 homes lost as well, insurance companies have just begun receiving victims’ claims, and the process of sorting through it all will be a major task. As of last Thursday morning, insurance companies had already received 100,000 claims for cars damaged by flooding, with 75 percent of them being totaled altogether. Until those claims pay out, many residents are going to be stranded, unless they work out carpools or take public transportation. Another possibility for them is to, of course, rent a car, but that also brings up another problem: not enough rental cars to meet demand. Rental car companies are at this very moment shipping thousands of extra cars from all over the US to the Houston area.
Avis, for example, is also waiving fees for extended loans, late returns and one-way trips. Car dealerships that were lucky enough to avoid serious damage are already seeing an increase in traffic. However, just going out and buying a new car before that insurance check arrives is something only the wealthy can afford. In fact, a reported 15 percent of Texas car owners don’t have any car insurance, and of the other 85 percent, only three-quarters have comprehensive insurance. Not all of those of claims are going to pay out mind you, and combined with the lack of public transport infrastructure at the moment (another Harvey victim), getting around Houston and the surrounding areas will be more difficult than ever for far too many.