Flash floods hit Shah Alam – car owners without special risk insurance cover face hefty bills

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Watch these scenes from Shah Alam last night. According to Selangor bomba leader Norazam Khamis, the flooding around Shah Alam Stadium at Seksyen 13 was about 1.2 meters high. The water was reported to have risen to chest level following a heavy downpour which lasted from 3pm. Other areas affected by the flash flood included Seksyen 9, 10, 4 and 7.

Everyone knows that this is not an isolated incident; it was Shah Alam yesterday and it could be Cheras, Puchong or KL tomorrow. Some areas are more susceptible to flash flooding than others, but development and new infrastructure have introduced flooding to more areas now, and the weather seems to be harsher these days, and not just in Malaysia. Experts have pointed to global warming as the cause.

When we come across news articles or forward images of floods to WhatsApp, the usual reaction is “wow, that’s pretty bad” or “finish all those cars”. It sounds like someone else’s problem if your home isn’t in a historically flood-prone area, but what about where you’re going?

Whether parking in the city center or on the federal highway en route to Klang for Makan, you might be walking through the eye of the storm without realizing it. And these things happen fast, usually too fast to escape, and that’s if there is a way out.

If you renew your auto insurance yourself, instead of having it run by a rider or agent, you know about flood or special peril coverage, which includes coverage for natural disasters and acts of God. Check these optional boxes and you will be reimbursed by the insurer if your car is damaged due to natural disasters, for a fee of course.

What is the typical cost? Allianz offers special perils cover for 0.25% of the vehicle’s sum insured, and this includes cover against floods, typhoons, hurricanes, storms, landslides, landslides and other convulsions of nature. Etiqa offers the same for 0.5% of the sum insured, but there is also “basic flood cover” (floods and storms only) for 0.25%.

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From my own plans with Etiqa, the basic flood coverage appears to be less than 0.225% – see examples above. Basically, at 0.25% of the insured value, it is an additional RM125 for a RM50,000 car and an additional RM250 for a RM100,000 car.

An example is your car crushed by a fallen tree caused by a storm. You will not receive a penny from the insurer if you have not opted for the optional special risk cover. If you did and the car is declared a total loss, you will be compensated based on the market value at the time of the incident or the agreed value if you paid more for this fixed sum option.

If being caught in a flood can happen to anyone, then why doesn’t everyone add flood or special peril coverage to their car insurance? Of course, it’s to save money, and I was guilty of that at the time as well. We believe this will not happen to us as our area is low risk and if we are careful where we park.

When deciding whether or not to tick the box, you can also remember that nothing ever happened the times you opted for additional coverage and the premium was wasted. The same goes for the windshield cover.

“As a claims professional, I can’t stress enough the importance of always adding special perils coverage to your auto insurance. Sure, you’d spend a little more on your auto insurance premium, but in hindsight , it’s an investment that protects your vehicle against unforeseen events and calamities,” said Damian Williams, claims manager at Allianz General Insurance Company.

“Just because you don’t live in a flood zone doesn’t mean there won’t be floods. Every year we see many of these incidents, and unfortunately only a fraction of people can claim flood damages,” he added.

If you are an uninsured victim of flood damage, is there any form of redress? The government and DBKL have publicly stated that they will not compensate victims of flash floods because it is an act of God. One can argue on the last point – pointing to insufficient drainage, poor planning, etc. – and try to sue the local authority, but that would involve a lot of time and resources, not to mention the legal costs – better to just pay the 0.25% of the sum insured a priori, right?

It goes without saying that the more protection you have the better, but that assumes the protection is free. Additional cover for your car comes at a cost, as you will find out by ticking all the available option boxes, but given the frequency, unpredictability and severity of flash floods here in Malaysia, basic flood cover should be the first name of the team. foil, as they say in football – in other words, a must have.

Ask yourself this: is the probability of your car being stolen so much higher than that of being caught in a flood, so much so that the protection for the former is maximum and zero for the latter?

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