Am I covered if I drive into a flash flood and it kills the engine? It’s a question that some drivers consider as summer thunderstorms overwhelm the UK’s badly maintained road network, with blocked drains and potholes adding to misery. Others merrily drive into deep water, hoping that their car will simply chug along through like Jeremy Clarkson’s Toybota from Top Gear.
Then again, your city hatchback or SUV might stall. Fact is, many modern vehicle electrical systems and air intake/exhaust systems are easily damaged, or fail to operate, in as little as 12 inches of water, depending on the speed of your approach, bow wave from other vehicles etc. Hoping you can claim for a deep clean and remedial work to you ignition coil pack, alternator, battery etc. or even having a new engine fitted isn’t good enough. You need to know the score on driving through floods,
So what is and what isn’t covered when you hit a flash flood on the road?
Quotezone.co.uk, a leading car insurance comparison website, says any damage to cars caused by driving through flash floods might not be covered by insurance policies. It warns motorists to carefully check their policy exclusions, and even if routes are partially blocked, drivers should think twice before using waterlogged roads.
Here’s more advice from Admiral;
“Most insurers put flood damage into two categories – avoidable flood damage and unavoidable flood damage. Avoidable damage could be classed as someone driving into flood water – you never know how deep it is.”
The short answer then is YOU took the risk by driving into a flooded part of the road. So expect to be held partially, or fully liable if you decide to drive through a flooded part of the road. That said, every insurance claim is looked at on its own merits, so there might be circumstances that meant you had to try and keep driving, despite the flood: driving at night and not seeing it, other drivers refusing to let you turn around and so on. If you decide to make a claim stay calm, get to a safe area, take photo or video evidence and contact your insurers asap. The quicker the car is recovered, the better the chances of repair, rather than write-off.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF LIGHTNING, YOUR CAR IS A FARADAY CAGE
If drivers find themselves stuck in the car during a thunderstorm, official advice from the Met Office is to wind up the window and stay inside the vehicle – the metal frame of the car should act as a conductive Faraday cage, passing the current around the passengers and into the ground, should it be struck by lightning.
If motorists have an open or soft top vehicle, they are best to avoid driving if they know thunderstorms are coming. The same logic applies for motorcycle riders, it’s best to pull over and wait the storm out rather than press on. Not only could a lightning strike prove fatal, but riding on flooded rides is extremely tricky as you don’t know what’s under the water, plus it’s very easy to lose tyre grip in torrential rain.
Greg Wilson, Founder of Quotezone.co.uk, comments: “Motorists who have taken out third party only or third-party, fire and theft insurance wouldn’t be covered for any storm damage to their vehicles – only fully-comprehensive policyholders are likely to be protected in those cases.
“If a storm is predicted look at official flood warnings, avoid roads that are likely to flood and allow more time for your journey, note you may have to pull over and wait it out if the downpour starts to affect your visibility – not forgetting to put on the hazard lights. Unfortunately, if motorists do decide to drive through waterlogged roads, there’s a very real risk that they won’t be covered for any resulting water damage to the car – even fully-comprehensive drivers.”
Greg also warns motorists that have to go out, to make sure their cars are roadworthy before setting off, which includes checking tyre tread and windscreen wipers.