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How to Claim Motor Vehicle Insurance During a Natural Disaster
[Posted by: InsuringIndia Blog on 02-Feb-2016]
When natural disasters strike, there is just no escape.  The recent Chennai Floods have highlighted an oft ignored fact ---you need to insure your motor vehicle not only against accidents, but natural calamities too. Unprecedented rain leading to floods can not only throw normal life out of gear, but also impact the most personal and moveable asset : your vehicle. Whether your vehicle has been partially/completely damaged or submerged in water, there is still a lot that can be done to salvage the situation. Here is a quick guide of the steps you can follow to claim an insurance, in times of a natural calamity. 
What does motor vehicle insurance entail ?
According to the Motor Vehicle Act 1988, it is mandatory for all vehicles to have an insurance policy. Whether you own a private car, a commercial vehicle or a two wheeler, a motor insurance policy covers and secures all these categories. Any vehicle owner whose vehicle is registered in his/her name with the regional transport authority in India, necessarily has to take a motor insurance policy.  In the current scenario, there are a plethora of choices online via companies that provide information on various policies provided by insurance companies. These plans are available at competitive rates and they also offer discounts to their clients. While a regular insurance policy will cover factors like loss or damage of the insured vehicle, personal accident cover, coverage against financial liability caused  by injury/death of a third party or damage to property. Most importantly, it also covers damage caused to the vehicle by accident, theft, fire, explosion, self ignition, lightning, riots, strikes or act of terrorism and  natural calamities. Premium is decided on factors like the age and type of vehicle, Insured Declared Value (IDV), place of registration and fuel type.
Steps to safeguard your claim
Natural calamities don’t come with a prior warning. But a lot more can be done to tide over the situation when disaster actually strikes. When your vehicle is impacted during a flood, do not attempt to start the engine or physically move the vehicle. Remember, if you attempt to turn the key into ignition, water can flood into your vehicle and may cause irreparable damages and severely impact your insurance claim. Instead, immediately inform your insurance agent of the situation and let a surveyor make a physical assessment of the vehicle. 
Cases where the vehicle has been completely washed away will be categorised as `complete loss' and the full insured declared value (IDV), post suitable depreciation, will be claimable. If not, the surveyor will put the case under partial loss and one will have to get a refund for repair or reinstatement. 
 In a deluge, your car can be broadly impacted three categories—engine,  car interiors like upholstery & fittings like nuts, bolts, air conditioner etc. In a regular policy, partially or fully submerged cars are not necessarily covered unless you get it added and are willing to pay an extra premium. Similarly, it’s a smooth ride if your air conditioner is factory fitted, if not, then you may want it included in the policy beforehand. Car interiors may be cleaned in an event of a flood, but whether they will be replaced depends entirely on the report of a surveyor. 
 Thus, its a good idea to opt for a comprehensive coverage which has zero depreciation insurance policy as it covers everything from accidents to natural disasters and can even include additional riders like covering car  accessories, engine protector etc. Carefully read the exclusion and inclusion section of your insurance policy. Does it cover floods, earthquake, tsunami, and other natural disasters? If not, then ask your insurance company to include them. You will be forking out extra money, but its clearly worth the peace of mind. 

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*This is based on the difference between the highest and lowest premium's for a single person, age 25, looking for an individual health policy with the sum insured of Rs. 5 lakhs.
**This is based on the difference between the highest and lowest premium's for a single person, age 25, looking for a term plan, with the sum insured of Rs. 30 lakhs, and the premium paying term of 30 years.
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