Ombudsman says your car insurance might not cover engine damage from driving through water!!

Car-Insurance-and-driving-through-waterDo you sometimes take the chance to drive through deep water? It might be time to consider the consequences not only from the view of safety – but also with a view to financial loss if your claim for damage to the engine is rejected!!

Engines damaged after driving through pools of water on the road during the rainy season might not be covered by certain insurance policies, the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance said.

“Driving through pools of standing water which may span across the road could lead to the potential exclusion of damage to an engine, if water is ingested into the engine,” a statement from ombud Brian Martin said.

He said motorists often move through the pools, particularly if they see other vehicles doing so.

“Consequently, if your engine is damaged through water getting into the engine without other damage to the vehicle, your insurer may decline liability for any claim for damage to the engine itself.

“This could leave you facing a very hefty bill”, said Martin.

Owners of bakkies and sports utility vehicles may not have the problem, but many modern cars have air intake systems low in the engine bay and are at risk of having water sucked in to them.

Advice to vehicle owners

Martin advises motorists to check their insurance policies to check if they are covered for such damage and to avoid driving through pools on the road where possible, or to be careful when doing so.

[Reporting from SAPA]

Decision by the Ombudsman

  • Cause of damage a specifically excluded situation

Facts:

On Saturday afternoon the insured was travelling along Rossini Boulevard, a dual carriage way in Vanderbijlpark. Because of a heavy downpour there was water across the road. The insured, traveling in a two-year old BMW thought that the water was not deep and proceeded through it, but the water turned out to be deeper than expected and the engine eventually cut out. One of the residents of Rossini Boulevard used his Bakkie to pull the BMW out of the water.

The engine was damaged, the cost of repairs amounted to R9,527.39.

The insurer rejected liability on the ground that the policy exceptions, inter alia, stated – “We will not be liable for damage to the engine or tyres unless some other part of the vehicle is damaged at the same time”.

Ombudsman’s response

The Ombudsman agreed with the insurer that based on the facts, there was no cover in terms of the policy.

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