Cyclone season in India is well and truly on. Barely days after we saw the back of Cyclone Tauktae, there’s another one — Yaas- that is rushing in to northern Odisha. Cyclones are notorious for causing widespread flooding, damage to cars and property, and disruption to daily life. Strong winds often uproot trees and poles, causing them to fall on parked vehicles. This results in further financial losses for vehicle owners. To safeguard yourself against the damaging effects of such storms on your vehicles, consider taking an ‘Own Damage’ cover (OD) that provides reimbursements for the damage repair your vehicles might have to undergo as a result of storms, flash floods, earthquakes, and landslides.
A comprehensive car insurance policy includes own damage cover along with the personal accident cover and the mandatory third-party liability cover.
If your car or bike has suffered damage due to natural calamities, and you have an own damage policy or a comprehensive policy, you can file a claim with your insurer with ease. With the industry moving online due to the pandemic, you can file your claim even on the insurer’s website. The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India has instructed insurers to appoint nodal officers to facilitate the receipt, processing, and settlement of all eligible claims.
Here’s what you need to do in case of damage to your vehicle:
Intimate the insurer immediately
If a tree or pole has fallen on your vehicle, fight the urge to remove it. Instead, call your insurer immediately—within 48 hours and provide them with the details of your vehicle and policy number.
Do not start your vehicle
If your vehicle is submerged, do not attempt to start the engine. Insurance companies generally do not cover damages upon attempting to turn on the engine of a recently submerged vehicle.
Collect photographic evidence
The insurer will ask you to share or upload the pictures of the damaged vehicle to assess your claim. Take as many pictures as you can, depicting the incurred damage clearly and extensively. Remember, once the vehicle is towed to a nearby garage, these pictures will be the only evidence you have. So, it is wise to ensure you take as many photos of the damage as you can and keep them safe until the claim is processed entirely.
Wait for assistance
Insurers have tie-ups with garages across the country. Upon intimation, they will send service personnel from the garage to tow away and inspect your vehicle. The garage will assess the damage and costs, and inform the insurer. Based on your policy coverage and the claim amount, the costs will be paid by the insurer. It goes without saying that if certain components that are not covered under the policy are damaged, the repair cost will have to be borne by the owner for those specific parts.
Surveyor may be needed
In the case of a large SUV, luxury cars or bikes, a surveyor may be appointed to assess the damage. It is usually done in cases of motor claims above Rs 50,000. However, in case the damage costs exceed 75% of the Insured Declared Value, then it is considered a total loss and the IDV is paid based on the depreciation of the vehicle. The settlement amount is still going to be less than what you would have paid for the vehicle. To get the full amount that you had paid for the vehicle you can opt for an invoice cover in addition to your standard car or bike insurance policy. This makes sense particularly if you have a new vehicle.
Do not get it repaired before reaching out to the insurer
In urgent situations, you may have to remove the obstructions yourself before taking the vehicle to an authorised service centre. However, ensure that you obtain the bills for all the work that is done. Also, ensure to take your vehicle only to an authorised service centre or your claim could be rejected. The pictures of the damage will come in handy here because once your car is fixed, there will be no evidence in case of a dispute later on.
There are several reasons as to why your claim can be rejected. These include such as:
If you are late in informing your insurer
If your car registration details were incorrect, or the vehicle is not registered in your name
Any unauthorised modifications were done to the vehicle
Repair work executed at an unauthorised workshop. This is because unauthorised dealers come with a reputation of providing inflated bills or fitting inauthentic parts.
If the surveyor suspects foul play and files an unconvincing report
Depreciation on plastic components and tyres are generally not covered unless you’ve taken a zero-depreciation cover.
If your bike or car was being used for commercial purposes
While insurance is primarily a forward-thinking financial safety net, you can only avail of its benefits if you follow the laid-down protocols. Storms are likely to get more frequent and claims could be entirely digital in the near future. While these adverse weather events can take up a lot of your bandwidth, it is essential to understand how you can make the most of your car insurance or bike insurance policy to prevent further financial loss. While you stay safe in your home, be smart with your motor insurance policy choices and opt for comprehensive coverage to mitigate such scenarios.