Car insurance is a valuable tool that ensures that whenever there is an accident, fire or flooding, its repercussions pose as little disturbance as possible.
Every vehicle owner needs insurance, not as a mere formality but because it is a practical and legal necessity that covers expenses when a vehicle is damaged or stolen, or when one damages another’s vehicle. There are 2 types of car insurance — comprehensive and third party insurance. A comprehensive insurance policy helps pay for damage to one’s vehicle in case of an accident and protects owners against legal liabilities, including death, from third parties. Third party insurance covers owners only against legal liabilities when they are at fault in committing an accident. In India, it is illegal to drive a vehicle without third party insurance.
In Case of a Road Accident
When a car is damaged in a road accident, the driver can either make a claim using a comprehensive insurance policy or make a claim for 3rd party insurance from the other party. Using a comprehensive policy is an easy and straightforward process. Immediately after a road accident, a car owner should inform the insurance company and the police. A car must not be moved from its position until the insurance company and police advise it to be moved.
After an accident, an insurance company sends a surveyor who assesses the damage to a car and grants permission for repairs. After this, the car can be taken to a service centre. Depending on the kind of insurance policy a person has, he or she can either opt for a cashless facility or pay from their pocket and have the bills reimbursed by their insurance company.
Third party claims are more complex than comprehensive claims. A third party claim begins when a claim is filed with the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. The claim is accompanied with details about the accident, the surveyors’ report, and copy of the FIR. Insurance companies don’t assist in the filing of third party insurance. This is why it can be cumbersome. It is recommended not to file for third party insurance unless oneself or other passengers in the car were physically injured in the accident.
A few tips that ease the process of insurance claims for vehicles are explained below.
# Filing an FIR
After a major road accident, one should file an FIR. This is because an FIR is a must to file for a comprehensive or third party claim. A copy of the filed FIR must be kept securely. In case of minor accidents, such as bumps or scratches, however, filing an FIR may be unnecessary.
# Formally Inform the Insurer
If an accident is not reported to an insurance provider within 7 days, the insurance claim may be rejected. However, most insurance providers offer an even shorter window of 24 to 48 hours after an accident to file a claim. Therefore, it is crucial to call the insurer immediately to intimate that an accident has occurred.
Ideally one should inform an insurer even before taking the vehicle to the garage for repairs. This is because doing so may lead to availing of benefits such as towing of the vehicle and free pickup for passengers.
# Make Certain Documents Reach One’s Insurer
A claim process begins only once all the documents reach an insurer. After an accident, one must ask the insurer which documents are needed and by when. Documents including the Motor Claim Form, Insurance Policy, Registration Certificate, and Driving License must be submitted to an insurer. It’s important to note that while these documents are essential to processing a claim, delay in submitting them is not grounds for denying a claim.
# Capture Photos at Accident Site
Unless one is grievously injured, it is always a good idea to take pictures of the accident. Such pictures will serve as valid proof when a claim is being resettled. If possible, it’s also a good idea to collect the names and phone numbers of witnesses as well as those of the third party involved in the accident.
In Case a Car Catches Fire
When a car catches fire, the first thing to do is call a fire brigade to extinguish the fire. After calling a fire brigade immediately call your insurance provider so that the insurance claim is processed smoothly. A comprehensive automobile insurance policy provides insurance against fire. The insurance provider will send a surveyor who will examine the car, assess the damage done, and try to determine the cause of the fire. The police should also be called. This is because an insurer may ask for an FIR to process a claim.
It’s important to know that fire insurance can only be claimed when during the fire flames were visible. Damage caused to a car by overheating or short-circuiting isn’t covered by fire insurance. Cars set alight during riots or by burning debris are covered by comprehensive insurance.
In Case of Flooding
A comprehensive insurance policy may not cover against flooding unless such cover was sought beforehand. When a car is trapped in a flood never try turning it on. While a comprehensive insurance policy will cover a car’s engine against damage caused by flooding, when an owner attempts to turn on a car that is waterlogged or trapped in a flood, it will further damage the engine making it ineligible for any coverage.
An insurer should be called immediately. Basic details such as the vehicle number, registration number, and owner’s mobile number should be shared to allow the insurer to find the policy details. Car owners should wait for further instructions after having informed their insurer. After an insurer is informed it may send a surveyor, although, in a widespread flood, minor cases of flooding may not need the attention of surveyors. An insurer may provide a vehicle to tow the car to safety.
Car insurance is a valuable tool that ensures that whenever there is an accident, fire or flooding, its repercussions pose as little disturbance as possible. While insurance helps spread risk, features of insurance policies such as No Claim Bonus ensure driver’s who drive safely and aren’t involved in major road accidents are rewarded by having to pay lower insurance premiums in the future.
(By Mahesh Shetkar, Business Development Head, Doers – a vehicle servicing company)