Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Rain Check

Monsoons can bring joy & merry. It also brings its share of woes, some of which can be easily handled by insurance

By Preeti Kulkarni

It was a routine ride to work for Delhi-based, Praveen Khanna, till his car skidded on a wet highway stretch. “My car took an uncontrollable spin, thankfully nobody was hurt, but the Merc was badly damaged. It could have been worse,” says Khanna.

Long traffic snarls, potholed roads, uprooted trees, water seeping into your house and mosquito menace are all experienced in the same breath. You also face the health risk of malaria and dengue. The very thought of all these perils can send shivers down the bravest spine. “Many a times, one forgets or is just unaware of the existence of relevant policies to cover against such risks,” explains financial planner, Puneet Oberoi.

“The incessant Chennai rains two years ago had me worried, but like every other car that was passing through a short water-logged stretch, I too tried whizzing past, only to be stranded in the pool. As much as I tried cranking up the car, it won’t start,” recounts Radhakrishnan Swamy. The Chennai-based IT professional had to finally push his car to the roadside and leave it there for two days before he could get a mechanic to tow the car away to a garage.

Special covers

The standard motor insurance is mandatory and sufficient for most common risks faced by your vehicle—liability, theft and fire. Then, you have the damage cover, which insures your vehicle against damages due to accidents which are covered for. However, with changing times and complexities, these are just not enough. “The kind of wear and tear that your vehicle experiences during the rains is not part of the standard motor insurance cover. You need to look at add-ons, which address monsoon-specific risks,” explains Tapan Singhel, MD & CEO, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance.

Take for instance, the heart of the car, its engine—under standard motor insurance, there is no insurance cover on engine damage. However, with monsoons, the engine is the most vulnerable part of your vehicle. “Engine damage due to water ingression is not covered under the own damage section of your motor policy unless you have opted for an engine protect add-on,” points out Rajiv Kumar, MD & CEO, Universal Sompo General Insurance.

Engine-protection cover is regarded as a highly useful add-on, especially when driving through waterlogged roads that can lead to your car being stalled. “If your engine needs to be replaced due to damage, you might have to shell out around Rs 10 lakh if you own a high-end BMW or Mercedes,” adds Oberoi. There are several and useful add-on covers that you must consider to protect your vehicle against the monsoon menace.

There is another useful addition— tyre cover, typically provided for luxury cars, can limit your losses due to tyre damage. “These days each tyre could cost Rs 10,000-15,000 and higher in case of high-end cars, making this add-on critical,” explains Oberoi. Getting the right insurance is not sufficient, you also need to take precautions when you are stranded to claim the insurance benefits. “Never try to crank up your vehicle when it is stuck in water-logged areas,” suggests Singhel. If you try to restart your vehicle under these circumstances, water could seep in, leading to engine failure.

“Manually push the vehicle to dry land and later start the car, if it is stuck in water,” suggests Kumar. Avoiding such mistakes can help you prevent damages and subsequent claims and repairs. Likewise, leaving your car’s metal parts exposed to rains can lead to malfunctioning or rusting. Make sure that you park your vehicle in a protected parking lot and not in the open. Not only will precautions taken by you help contain the damage and boost chances of your claim being approved, you will also be able to retain your no-claim bonus that translates into discounts on subsequent year’s premium.

Health protect

The monsoon misery is not restricted to your vehicle—it also affects your health. While common cold and seasonal fever are usual, there is also the risk of vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria. In recent years, the prevalence of dengue has gone up, and in many cases the disease has even caused death. Dengue is treatable and the cost to treat starts from Rs 30,000 including a few days hospitalisation. The standard health insurance does cover dengue, if the hospitalisation condition is met. However, the treatment for dengue is not just about being hospitalised—it also includes OPD consultations.

Spotting the gap, insurers have introduced dengue insurance policy, which covers both in-patient and out-patient treatment. The dengue specific insurance acts as an add-on to your basic health insurance policy. Moreover, in most cases you won’t have to undergo a health check-up when opting for this policy as you only need to provide a self-declaration that you are currently not suffering from dengue. The policy is very useful if you live in a dengue-prone region and do not wish to incur expenses on a treatment for which you have insurance available.

By taking appropriate motor and health insurance, you can enjoy the monsoons instead of worrying about expenses that come calling with the rains. Like Swamy and Khanna, you too could make sure that your vehicle is smartly insured and you are not fussing over a car which will be treated as junk just because you did not take the right insurance for it.

For a rainy ride

There are add-on covers to ensure your car does not catch a cold on a  wet and rainy day and leave you stranded on the roadside. Here are a few special additions that you should consider when taking car insurance.

Road side assistance:

This is useful throughout the year, but its utility is best experienced during the rains which provide 24x7 vehicle breakdown services. This cover helps you to peacefully handle problems like having a flat tyre, running out of fuel, battery related technical issue and accidents in a remote location.

Return to invoice:

Imagine finding your car submerged in rain for a few hours. The very thought can turn your head, especially if the situation turns into a deluge or a flood, which are becoming frequent during the monsoon season. The Return to Invoice (RTI) is an add-on option which covers the gap between the insured declared value and the invoice value of the car. It’s an option that will fetch you the entire amount of loss (the on-road price you paid for your car) that you incurred.

Zero depreciation:

The probability of accidents during monsoons is high and chances of damaged bumpers and dents are high, especially of the exterior plastic parts. As these parts are susceptible to depreciation, this can bring down the claim amount if the parts are already depreciated. Standard policy compensates only for the depreciated value and not the market price of the damaged part. This additional cover gives you the legal right to claim the complete replacement cost of the parts damaged in case of an accident which the policy covers. The concept of part replacement over repairs with new age cars means you stand to benefit by adding this cover. However, this cover is only applicable on cars that are not more than five years old from the date of purchase.

Engine protection cover:

When stuck in a water pool, the part of the car that suffers the most is the engine. Automakers mention that it is unwise to crank up the car when it is stuck in water because it can ruin the car engine. Such damages are usually excluded from the scope of standard motor insurance policy. This add-on cover can be used to cover such instances along with the repairing cost of electrical circuit failure at a nominal additional cost.

Cab services:

Add-on covers also provide an extra support by arranging a cab for you to reach your destination when your car breaks down mid-way. The rescue team takes care of your vehicle.

Towing assistance:

Paid towing assistance is given for the motor vehicle if it can’t be repaired on the spot. The crew tows the vehicle to the nearest service centre, your home or the police station as per the need of the situation.

 

preeti.kulkarni@outlookindia.com

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