Bruce Bennett/Getty Images News

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) announced updated estimates of cars damaged by Hurricane Sandy in a press release Thursday, which now goes beyond 250,500. This number only includes insured vehicles whose owners filed a claim after the storm in October 2012.

Owners in 16 states have filed claims thus far that range from scratched to flooded vehicles. New York ranks at the top of the list with more than 150,000 vehicles. New Jersey is second with 60,000. States as far as Ohio have reported vehicle damages caused by Hurricane Sandy. “The numbers also do not reflect uninsured losses, which could mean the true number of damaged cars is even higher,” the New York Daily News reports.

The NICB warns car buyers, “By now there could be many Sandy damaged vehicles that are in the process of being reconditioned and sold to unsuspecting consumers all over the country.” While it is not illegal to sell vehicles that have been involved in a flood, it is illegal for the seller to not inform buyers that the vehicle was involved in a flood. For this reason, the NICB has a website where consumers can learn about flood and salvage vehicle scams and use its VINCheck service.

Autoblog explains that consumers can research their potential next used vehicle by checking NICB’s free VINCheck. By inputting the car’s VIN, consumers can see if the vehicle has been reported stolen or salvaged.   

Shopping for a used car? Check out our Used Car Rankings, where you can compare used cars by class, model year and budget. Then, look for a great deal on a used car by checking out this month’s best used car deals. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.