Business Standard

Claiming insurance for monsoon-damaged cars

Don’t drive if the water level rises above the tyres. Park the vehicle at a safe spot and call the insurer


Claiming insurance against car engine seizure is among the common ones during the monsoon. But it’s also one of the most disputed because insurers reject out right all cases in which the water enters the engine and damages it. But if you take adequate precaution, there’s hope.

When driving through a flooded area, water can enter the engine from theair-intake system, seizing it. Itis called as the hydro static lock, and usually happens when a driver tries to restart the car multiple times after the water has entered the engine. But in certain cases, it can also happen when the car is simply moving through a water-logged area. Insurers, however, reject all claims pertaining to hydrostati­c lock, citing that the customer was negligent and damaged the engine trying to restart it.

“If the seizure happens when driving through a water-logged area, it’s an accident. Insurers needto reimburse the cost of repair. But if it happens because the customer tried to start the car multiple times, it’s negligence. But it’s not possible to establish whether the hydro static lock is an accident or due to negligence ,” says an official with a general insurance company.

In the past, consumer for a have ruled in favour of the individual who proved that he took adequate precaution once the car stopped in a water-logged area .“Whenever a person is travelling through a floodedare­a and the water is above the ty re level, he should get out of the vehicle and park it safely. If the cars tops for any reason, the driver should not try to start it,” says Parag Gupta, chief under writing officer, Bharti AXA General Insurance. One should then wait for the water to recede .“Call the insurer. Inform the company that your vehicle was submerged in water and ask for the process to follow,” says Tarun Mathur, co-founder and director, Policybaza­ Mostlikely, the insurer would arrange for the car to be to wed away to the nearest garage and have it inspected.

As engine seizure can lead to disputes, most insurers advise that it’ s always better if a customer get san add-on cover that protects engine damages. “The add-on cover comes at a nominal cost and includes all kinds of damage to the engine. It protects the buyer from consequent­ial damages too,” says Parag Ved, executive vice-president( consumer lines ), Tat a AIG General Insurance.

If your car was parked and water entered the cabin, follow the same procedure and call the insurer. Do not start the vehicle immediatel­y after the water recedes. Let it dry for a day or two. Besides engine seizure, there’s a possibilit­y of electrical equipment failure. Water can cause a short circuit or even start a fire in the car. The insurers, however, do not dispute any electrical failure and settle the claim.

Except for taking precaution with the engine and electrical equipment, an insurer would pass the relevant claim for any other damage to factory fitted equipment.

“Factory-fitted (equipment) does not include the components that your dealer would have offered you after the car reached the showroom. If you upgraded audio systems, got a reverse parking sensor later, added extra speakers from the dealer, etc, all such equipment would not be covered unless you had declared them to the insurer when filling up the form ,” says Atrey Bhardwaj, category head, general insurance, Bhardwaj says most individual­s don’ t re ali se that they need to inform the insurance company of any additional fitting they do, but they can be easily covered.

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