Floods have caused devastation in Australia, Brazil and even South Africa. Nowhere has the impact been more visible as in the video shared on this blog and titled “Video captures scene as vehicles are swept away by floods in Australia”
Watching this video we are all confronted with the question – how big is the loss to the vehicle owners? Do they have car insurance and are they covered by their insurance for this damage?
We would like to consider these questions in more detail in this blog post and provide some advice to vehicle owners.
Car Insurance is required
Despite several warnings from financial advisers and the car insurance industry, many still risk driving vehicles that are uninsured. Car insurance is not compulsory in some countries – and in South Africa it is estimated that only 30% of the vehicles are insured.
Without car insurance you are facing all the risks – you will suffer the consequences of your failure to go without insurance! It will not be only your vehicle that is swept away – but also your financial well-being!
You may however also be at risk with car insurance, as not every car insurance policy will cover flood damage!
What does the Car Insurance Policy stipulate?
As a starting point we always have to revert back to our car insurance policy and read the terms and conditions of the policy. It is important to differentiate between 2 types of car insurance policies
- Comprehensive car insurance cover will reimburse drivers for loss due to damage caused by something other than a collision with another car or object, such as fire, falling objects, catastrophic storms, vandalism, or contact with animals such as birds or deer. This includes flooding.
- Third party or third party, fire and theft policies will not cover flood damage
What is flooding?
It is also important to consider what amounts to flood damage – and that this is not merely water damage to the engine caused by the negligence of the driver! Whether the incident is treated as an “at fault” claim varies between insurers. The Ombudsman for short term insurance in South Africa has warned that car insurance will not cover engine damage caused by driving through deep water.
Flood damage should be regarded as the result of flooding rains and huge seas: cars swept off causeways, flooded bridges, vehicles engulfed as giant waves crash over sea walls.
What do I need to know when my vehicle has suffered flood damage?
- If you believe the car has suffered flood damage, do not attempt to switch on the ignition, and check the outside of your vehicle for any damage.
- Have your car examined by a qualified mechanic at the earliest opportunity following floods to assess the damage caused by flood conditions.
- Report the damage as soon as possible to your car insurance company to check if you’re eligible to claim for any damage.
- If your car is not drivable, your agent or claims centre may be able to save you time and money by having the car towed directly to the repair facility instead of to a temporary storage facility.
- Your insurer may be able to provide you with a replacement rental car, if your policy includes this coverage.
How can I avoid flood damage?
- Keep a close eye and ear on weather reports and disaster warnings
- If a flood warning has been issued in your area and you’re unsure as to your cover, contact your insurance provider to double-check any details before setting off on a journey.
- If there is time before a flood strikes, move your car to a safe place – higher ground, for example – out of the reach of the floodwater.
- If you need to be on the road, before embarking on your journey plan your route and alternative routes well in advance.
- Research alternative routes in the event of road closures in flood-prone areas.
- If you need to travel during flood conditions, be sure to leave plenty of time for your journey.
- Make sure you let someone know of the planned itinerary of your journey, including departure times and an approximate return time – this information can be valuable to emergency services should you become stranded.
- Pack a small bag with a change of clothes, food and drink and a fully charged mobile phone in case of emergency.
You need to approach driving in heavy rain with caution! On the Arrive Alive website there is information on this topic and we would like to urge motorists to view the following sections on the Arrive Alive website:
A few of the most important suggestions include:
- Adjust your speed for the specific road and weather conditions
- Drive slowly and cautiously, leave plenty of space between yourself and the car in front, remembering that braking distance is reduced in wet conditions.
- Drive very carefully around flooded parts of the road, keeping to the highest possible point.
- Do not attempt to travel through flooded patches if you’re unsure of the depth. – Do not guess the depth of water and if you need to travel through water – walk slowly across to ensure that the road is still intact!
- Your comprehensive car insurance policy might not cover for electrical faults so you don’t want to risk this damage occurring.
- If you have to travel through flood water, drive at low speed and be vigilant for any debris or other obstacles that could cause damage to your vehicle.
- Once clear of the water, use gentle braking to dry your brakes, but ensure it is safe to do so before taking this step.
We would like to urge vehicle owners to be alert and vigilant at times. Remember that your vehicle can be replaced –you and your family member cannot! Rather stay clear of flooded waters and adhere to the warnings, alerts and directions provided by safety and emergency officials!!