How to get the best out of your car insurance when car is damaged in floods

With thousands of cars damaged in recent rains, it is important that you know how you can get the best out of your car insurance.

The recent deluge in Mumbai on August 29, came suddenly and unannounced, caused mayhem, left many dead and several missing while vehicles on the street also faced the brunt of the fury. Many cars and vehicles were seen fully or partially submerged in flood waters and car owners are only just assessing the damage and wondering if their insurance companies will make good these losses.

Cars are usually covered from any loss or damage due to both natural and manmade calamities. While vehicle owners submit their claims, vehicle insurance companies are gearing up for 10 year high claims and trying to assess whether full or partial reimbursements should be meted out.

Not all damaged vehicles will receive insurance benefits. There are certain criteria under which these claims fall and various factors are involved which need to be taken into account by the insurer.

How does the owner file for insurance claim? The owner of the damaged vehicle will have to get in touch with the insurance company as soon as possible. Pictures of the damaged vehicle will have to be sent to them and they will send a surveyor or assessor to evaluate the damage. Insurance claims will be paid off in a timely manner as per the terms and conditions of the Insurance Company.

Engine Damage – The most common constraint faced by car owners during a flood is water entering the engine and the vehicle stalling. In this case, the damage is purely mechanical or electrical and not covered under most motor insurance policies. The damage will be assessed by a surveyor and the most common damage is when flood waters enter the engine through the hydraulic lock. In this case the insurer will only pay for cleaning and getting the engine in working condition.

If it is found that stalled engines were cranked up while driving through water logged areas, then the owner will not get any insurance reimbursement whatsoever. It is only if the vehicle owner has opted for an add on engine protection cover that this will be allocated that that is a very rare occurrence as owners will only take this cover if they are living in a flood prone area.

Interior Damage – If flood waters enter the cabin area and interiors and upholstery is damaged, then the claim will be limited to just a cleanup job. Regulations for complete revamping interior upholstery fall under a different category. Salt water causes more damage that fresh water while in severe flood conditions mud and slush can also damage interiors. While filing a claim for insurance benefit, the owner should give details of location where the car was submerged, the depth of water at that particular time and type of water entering the cabin.

Depreciation will take into account parts which are made of rubber, nylon or plastic which includes tubes, batteries and airbags. In this case the cover is only 50%. For glass parts it is nil but if the occupant has to break the window due to locks getting jammed due to short circuit, then the insurance company will offer full reimbursement.

External Damage – Vehicles damaged due to falling trees or walls tumbling down due to incessant rains are also entitled to insurance cover. Again the vehicle owner will have to take relevant photos of the day, date, time and location where the damage has occurred and rely on the surveyor to give his final clearance on the insurance cover which will be received.

Complete Loss – In the worst case scenario, when the car is completely washed out in the event of a flood, the insurance company will reimburse full insured declared value after taking into account depreciation. The surveyor will assess the damage, ascertain if its total loss or a partial one and only then will the insurance claim be cleared. In the event of partial loss, insurance cover will only be limited to repair and reinstatement.

It has also to be borne in mind that owners of cars damaged due to floods cannot expect full cover for the vehicle and several terms and conditions apply. No cover will be given for added fittings like music system and CNG kits. Consumable items such as nuts, bolts, screws, washers, bearings, oil filter and other such parts are also not covered under a standard policy. Even an add-on consumable policy cover will not make good this loss unless subject to certain terms and conditions.