Is Fire Damage covered in Motor Insurance?
One of the very worst things that can happen to your beloved car, is for it to be damaged in a fire. If this is something you have nightmares about, you might be wondering – what can you actually do about it?
Well, hopefully, you never face such a situation, but sometimes accidents unfortunately do happen without any warning. However, in most such cases you might turn to your motor insurance to have your back as a safety net against these kinds of losses.
So, if you’re wondering if your motor insurance policy covers you against fire damages, read on to find out more.
What are fire damages in motor insurance?
When we’re talking about fire damages in motor insurance, this usually means any losses or damages to your vehicle because of a fire. These damages can be either external (like to the body of the car) or internal (for example any damage to the wiring or electrical fittings).
Generally, for insurance, a “fire” is any ignition or outbreak of visible flames in the car, so any damages caused by things like short-circuiting or overheating aren’t considered “real fires”.
What can cause vehicle fires?
Even thinking of your vehicle catching on fire is probably quite scary, as fires can cause a lot of damage! But we’re sure you want to be fully aware of how and when it can happen.
So here are some ways your vehicle can sustain fire damages:
Garage Fires – If your garage catches fire, it can spread to any of your vehicles that are sitting inside it as well.
Engine Fires – Sometimes your vehicle’s engine can catch on fire due to mechanical problems such as faulty wiring, overheating, or oil leakages. The fire can then even spread from the engine and damage the other parts of the vehicle.
Fires started in Accidents – Getting into a major accident can occasionally cause a fire, but don’t worry it doesn’t happen as often as they show in the movies 😆! But, in case it happens, especially in a collision with multiple vehicles, it can result in severe damages
Vandalism and Arson – It's pretty rare, but sometimes your vehicle might become the target of a particular vandal or arsonist who sets it on fire, directly or indirectly. Since this is a criminal act, remember to immediately go to the police!
Riots – When people are rioting, they can cause a lot of property damage. You may think that this is basically the same as vandalism, but usually, in riots, your vehicle is not the special target.
Does your motor insurance policy cover fire damages?
Now that you have realized the many ways in which your vehicle might be at risk from fire, you’re probably wondering if your motor insurance will help you out in such a situation. The answer to that is – it depends!
What does that mean? Well, some types of insurance policies cover against fire damages while others don’t. You can learn more about this here:
- Basic Third-Party Policy - Unfortunately, a standard third-party policy (or a liability-only policy) is there just to protect you from losses if your vehicle were to damage any third-party person or property. It does not cover damages to your own vehicle, such as fire damages. However, as per the Motor Vehicles Act, it is mandatory to have at least a third-party insurance in India.
- Third-Party with Fire Coverage Policy - This is a package policy, which basically gives you a third-party policy with the added benefit of fire cover for your own vehicle. It is available as an offering from Digit. If you think that your vehicle is not at risk from other damages, this is the option for you. However, if you do want more own damage benefits, you should consider getting a comprehensive policy.
- Standalone Own Damage Policy - As the name clearly says, an Own Damage policy specifically covers any damages and losses that might happen to your own vehicle. So, this means that any damages due to fires (as well as things like accidents and collisions, natural calamities, and thefts) will be covered. However, do remember that to buy an Own Damage policy, you must already have a third-party policy in place as it is mandatory, by law.
- Comprehensive Policy - A Comprehensive Policy is like an all-weather umbrella which protects you both from rain and sun (or in this case fire!) Basically, it protects you from both third-party liabilities and damages to your own vehicle as well. And this second part is what will protect your vehicle from fire damages.
(As an added bonus, with both the own damage and comprehensive policies, you can opt for a ton of add-on covers that will give you even more protection!)
What is covered under fire damages?
Okay so now you know exactly which policies will cover you in the case of fire damages to your vehicle, you might be wondering exactly what this coverage means. Generally, speaking, this is what is covered by your motor insurance for fire damages:
Is there anything that is not covered?
While it’s good to know exactly what will be covered under your insurance, it’s also just as important for you to know what is NOT covered. This way you won’t have any surprises, and you can avoid your claims being rejected:
What to do if your vehicle is damaged by fire?
First of all, if you see your car on fire, call the appropriate authorities (such as the fire brigade) as soon as possible! Even if you think there might be a fire, or you’re not sure that you were able to properly put it out yourself, be sure to get help. If you think the fire was set deliberately by someone, inform the police at once and lodge an FIR.
Sometimes, vehicle fires only damage a part of the vehicle, but in other cases, it can be completely burnt, or the cost of repair might be more than 75% of the vehicle’s Insured Declared Value, or IDV (this is the maximum amount which your insurance company will pay you). This is called a “total loss” and in such cases, your motor insurance will reimburse you with this same IDV amount (minus any deductibles and depreciation)
Once you’ve put out the fire, you can see the extent of the damage it has caused and make a claim against your insurance policy.
How to make a claim for fire damages in motor insurance?
After you deal with the immediate problem, report the fire to your insurance provider as soon as you can. The sooner you get in touch with them the better. Here is how you would need to go about making a claim:
- Step 1: Contact your insurer
- Step 2: Submit all the necessary documents, such as the FIR you lodged with the police, any report from the fire brigade, your claims form, your policy document, the vehicle’s RC, and the bill for any replacement and repairs.*
- Step 3: The insurer might want to send a surveyor to have a look at the vehicle and assess the fire damages
- Step 4: Your insurer will either accept or reject the claim, and if it’s accepted, you will receive the claim amount (depending on the extent of the damages, this can be the repair expenses or the vehicle’s IDV)
*A more comprehensive list of documents will vary with your situation and insurer.
For example, with Digit, we will send you a Self-Inspection link for you to send across pictures of the damages. Our team will then assess the situation and get back to you with an estimate. Almost extra hassle involved at all! 😊
Hopefully, you now have a better idea about how motor insurance works in the case of fire damages. Having the right insurance policy can be a huge help in terrible situations like this, as it will have your back and make the entire ordeal more bearable because you can be sure that you won't have to cover the expenses all on your own.