Driving over flooded roads and getting additional coverage for your car

It’s a situation every driver in Malaysia will encounter, especially during the rainy season. Floods are so common that whenever we see a car marooned in water on social media, we commiserate and move on with a what-can-you-do attitude. Scary it may be, but there is actually quite a lot you can do and the little knowledge below will help you swim and not sink.

There are a few scenarios for this:

Scenario 1: Getting through a flooded section safely

The familiar stretch of road in front of you is covered with water. The car ahead of you pushes forward and makes it through. Observe its size and ground clearance. If it is of similar dimensions to your vehicle, you may have a good chance of making it through.

If you decide to brave the flooded section, approach cautiously and wade into it. Keep up a steady pressure on the throttle pedal to maintain vehicle speed – you should be fast enough that the car won’t stall and slow enough so that the waters don’t wash over the hood. If there is a car ahead of you, make sure you leave plenty of room in between before you go into the water.

Otherwise, find a safe place to stop, turn on your hazard lights, and wait it out.

Scenario 2: The engine dies. Now what?

You drive through a flooded street and it is deeper than you first thought. Your vehicle gives that heart-dropping sputter. Once, twice, and then the engine dies. Oh, no. If your vehicle is still in the middle of that abominable ocean of water, here’s what you should do.

Do not panic. It’s easier said than done, but keep a clear head, breathe, and you’ll be able to make better decisions.

Do not attempt to restart the engine. The impulse is hard to resist, we know, but doing so may cause further damage to the engine and electronics of the vehicle. If the engine is still running and you’re stuck in traffic with water levels rising fast, turn it off and remove the key from the ignition.

Note the water level. This will help you and the person who may be repairing your vehicle make an informed assessment of the potential damage.

Get your valuables and get out. Unless it’s dire and you’re in danger of drowning, you’ll have enough time to grab keys, handphones, wallets, maybe even your baby at the back. We’re kidding, leave the baby. Please don’t. Take the baby first. Head to higher ground, especially if it is still raining as the water level may rise further. Get out of the rain too if possible.

Call for help. If it is a secluded area, the emergency services should be the first numbers to call. 999 and 112 both work on mobile phones. Next, get hold of your auto insurance provider to arrange for a tow truck.

Eventually, the flood will dissipate, so here’s what to do next.

Don’t start your engine. Just because there is no water around the car doesn’t mean there is no water in the important bits of the car. You may inadvertently cause further damage.

Get help. If you have not already, get your car moved to a workshop as soon as you can. If it’s in a basement carpark or somewhere safe, you can make a calculated risk to leave it to dry before bringing it to the workshop.

Take pictures of everything. Marks on the body of the car will show the highest water level during the flood. Debris around the car may have damaged the body, and in the car it indicates damage to the interior. Pop open the hood and grab as many pictures as you can as well. All this will help you in the insurance claim that is to come.

Get your car insured for flood Damage

It’s a scary experience, but some of the stress of it can be mitigated by protecting your vehicle (and your wallet). No flood insurance coverage means a big chunk of cash out of your pocket to get your vehicle running again. It is an expensive and upsetting affair. With it, it is much less trying.

Generally speaking, insurance plans in Malaysia come in three categories – Comprehensive Coverage, Third Party with Fire and Theft Coverage, and Third Party Coverage. Although it is mandatory that cars in Malaysia are insured, flood coverage is an add-on option and is not mandatory. This costs only 0.5% of your vehicle’s sum insured.

A simple example would be:

0.5% of RM100,000 (sum insured) = RM500 (price paid for flood coverage per annum)

It is a small price to pay when compared to the price of overhauling an engine or replacing an ECU, and it looks even smaller when it buys you peace of mind. Grab your policy or give your insurance provider a call if you’re unsure.

This happened two years ago (Credit: TheStar Online)


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