The weather has been changing as we ease into the summer months, with more South Africans being affected by hail, rainstorms, and other summer weather phenomena.
The change in weather has led to damage to cars and property, which in turn has resulted in an increase in the number of insurance claims. For this reason, it is important that people review and update their current insurance policies.
A change in weather means that people are not always driving in good weather conditions. The change in weather means that people will need to adjust the way that they drive on the roads.
Various types of lousy weather affect a diver’s ability to drive, including some of the following:
– Fog and mist
– Strong winds
– Smoke from veld fires
Different insurers have specific rules when it comes to covering the damage caused by the weather.
During a flood, if the water reaches the level of the bumper and the damage is minimal and can be fixed by a qualified mechanic, then you won’t have to claim from your car insurance.
If water reaches the level of the vehicle dashboard or the car roof, then you need to contact your insurer to let them know about the damage.
According to the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance, if the cost of repairing the vehicle to its original roadworthy state is higher than the vehicle’s insured value, the insurer may write it off. Insurance will then pay out the vehicle's insured value in cash minus the excess.
However, in instances of blatant negligence, your insurance may not cover you for water damage because vehicle owners are responsible for caring for their vehicles and keeping them out of harm’s way.
Examples of negligence can include leaving windows or the sunroof open during a storm when the vehicle is damaged by water or deliberately driving into an area that is flooded.
The best way to avoid flood damage to a car is to avoid driving in floods. However, if it’s unavoidable, there are precautions that a driver can take.
It only takes 0.6 metres of moving water to sweep a car off the road, so people should avoid driving in bad weather. If the car is swept off the road, the driver must exit the vehicle as quickly as possible.
Drivers need to take note of public service notifications and use alternative driving routes that are safer, as advised by the traffic authorities.
Will car insurance cover hail or flood damage? The answer is that it depends on a person’s car insurance coverage and the insured events that are included in their policy.
According to the ombudsman, third-party only and third-party fire and theft insurance do not cover extreme weather damage. To ensure that they have comprehensive protection against severe weather risks, people will need comprehensive car insurance.
This cover includes the full range of damage possibilities to the vehicle; however, it will not include damage to personal possessions in the car.
If all these conditions have been met and a person is denied a payout by their insurer, then they should contact the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance. The ombudsman will investigate and mediate the dispute and come up with a fair outcome based on the evidence provided.