Car fires are thankfully one of the less common threats to the Singaporean motorist, but they do happen. They can be caused by electrical or mechanical faults, by vandals, or by a fire that spreads from a home to a garage. A fire might also be caused by an accident or collision. Seeing smoke seeping from your car bonnet can be a distressing experience, but being insured against such an event can help alleviate the stress to some degree.
My Car’s On Fire – What Do I Do?
It goes without saying that if you can safely tackle the fire, do so. In the unlikely event that it gets out of control, call the fire service immediately.
You should then see if you are covered. You may do this by checking your policy documents, visiting your insurer’s website, or calling them directly. But it’s a good idea to understand what you are covered for before you buy a policy.
Am I Covered?
It really depends on your particular policy. Most insurers offer lower-cost policies that do not give protection against fire damage. In the case of DirectAsia.com or all other insurers, basic Third Party Car Insurance would not provide cover against fire. However, Third Party Fire and Theft – as the name suggests – would protect you:
“If your car is damaged by fire we will repair your car or pay you the cost to do so. We even guarantee workmanship by our approved workshops for 12 months.”
(Third Party Fire and Theft Car Insurance, DirectAsia.com)
Equally, Comprehensive Cover also provides protection against fire, along with a number of additional perils such as floods and falling trees.
“fire and vandalism
We will cover the cost of repairing your car up to the reasonable market value of your car if it is damaged by fire or if it is maliciously damaged or vandalised.”
(Comprehensive Car Insurance, DirectAsia.com)
What if My Car Is No Longer Usable After a Fire?
You will have to check the details of your particular policy. In the case of DirectAsia.com’s Comprehensive Car Insurance, the policy document says this:
“If: we decide that your car is so badly damaged that it would not be safe or economical to repair it; or your car has been stolen, we will pay you the market value of your car at the time of the accident or loss.”
Claiming After a Car Fire: Your Questions Answered
1. What’s the claims process – and what documents are needed?
Firstly, call your insurer and report the incident. You’ll need to supply the basic documents needed for a car insurance claim, as listed here. It is also a good idea to submit and keep a copy of the other external documents (if any) to support your claim. These may include a police report, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) report of the fire investigation, GIA accident report; insurer’s surveyor report.
2. If there is 3rd party damage (damage to a parking area, other cars, public property) what will happen?
It will be settled by your insurer as part of a Third Party claim.
3. What’s the impact on my NCD – and my premium?
Your NCD will be adversely affected – depending on the status of NCD you had at the time of the accident;
You’ll be advised of any impact on your premium shortly before renewal. You will probably see an increase due to making a claim.
4. What if my car has been modified without being declared?
Your insurer may tie the modifications to the fire. If illegal modifications (HID, LED, DRL etc.) led to the fire, then your insurer will not be obliged to pay the claim.
5. What if I am declared not-at-fault in such circumstances? Will I need to declare when getting a quote from other insurers?
Yes, you must inform any future insurer of the claim.
The Personal Touch from DirectAsia.com
If you’re insured with DirectAsia.com, you can expect to be guided through your claim by a single person, who will keep you updated with all developments associated with your claim by phone, email or SMS – whichever method suits you best. We’ll make the process as quick and simple as possible.
High Profile Fire Risk Recalls
There has been some high profile issues associated with car fire safety in certain brands and models. Cooper Mini was forced to recall 235,000 cars in 2012 over fears that a fault in an electric water pump could cause a fire. There were a handful of incidents related to this problem worldwide, none of which are thought to have caused any injuries.
But this was a small issue compared to that of Toyota, which had to recall 7.4 million cars in October 2012 due to a faulty electric window switch thought to pose a fire risk.
More recently – in June – Ford had to recall 460,000 vehicles over leaky fuels tanks, following hundreds of complaints.
Get Protected Against Fire
Thankfully, car manufacturers are quick to react to such faults, and very few ever lead to serious fires. That said, mechanical and electrical fires – along with those caused by vandals and collisions – pose a small but real risk to the modern motorist.
If you want real peace of mind as regards the issue, there’s only one thing to do: make sure you’re covered.