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September 3, 2010

Owners who lose cars out of carelessness cannot make insurance claim


WHILE having a motor insurance is a must for Malaysian drivers, many people do not realise that there are some incidents which are not covered by the insurance policy.

An email pertaining to this is in circulation — one of which was forwarded to the StarMetro.

It highlights an incident where a man left his car at a car wash and upon returning to collect it, was told that the car had been already collected.
Car owners caught in this situation and thinking that they can make an insurance claim on their “missing” vehicle would be in for a shock because the car was voluntarily surrendered to the impostor by the car wash operator, who was the custodian of the car.

Not safe: Think twice about handing your car keys over to car wash operators or car jockeys because if your car goes missing, you might not be able to make insurance claims on it.

According to Tokio Marine Insurans (M) Bhd deputy chief executive officer S. Jayakumar, in this situation, the claim on the car would fall under exception 4(e) of Section A of the Motor Insurance Policy which states that: “We will not pay for any loss or damage caused by or attributed to the act of cheating/criminal breach of trust by any person within the meaning of the definition of the offence of cheating/criminal breach of trust set out in the Penal Code.”

“Since the operator has handed over the car without proper verification, that means the impostor has deceived the operator,” he said.

He added that these situations were not uncommon and people take it for granted that it would not happen to them.

In Malaysia, owners of private cars can either buy a comprehensive policy or a third party policy.

Wrong act: One of the common mistakes made by motorists is to leave their engine running while they get down to open the gate.

In simple terms, the comprehensive policy covers any loss or damage to your car and damage to a third party property, bodily injury and death.

A third party policy only covers damage to the other person’s car or property and injury or death caused by your vehicle.

Jayakumar said under the comprehensive policy, there were additional covers like windscreen damage, passenger liability and extended perils, which cover loss or damage caused by natural disasters like flood and landslides.

Passenger liability covers the driver if an injured passenger takes legal action against the driver for negligence and it also pays for injuries sustained by the passenger.

Even with flood and landslides being a common occurrence in Malaysia, Tokio Marine Insurans general manager Mary Yee said many people still chose not to buy coverage on extended perils because they think it would not happen to them.

“We have had people submitting claims for their damaged cars but do not know that there are many things that the insurance company would not pay for,” said Yee.

She said under condition 7(c), the policy would only be operative if “you have taken all reasonable precautions to safeguard your vehicle from loss or damage.”

“At petrol stations, some people like to leave their engines on while they run down to pay at the counter. Others would forget to take something from their house and they would leave the engine running and run into their homes to get it. In that short time, someone could just drive off with their cars and it won’t be covered because they did not take reasonable precaution,” explained Yee.

Jayakumar cited an example where a car owner put up his car for sale and got a call from a potential buyer who wanted to test drive it.

“If the owner hands over the keys to the buyer who disappears with the car, then you can’t make a claim on it,” he said.

He added that even experienced car dealers get cheated: “Some dealers would go for the test drive with the potential buyer and the buyer would pretend that there was something wrong with the car, have the dealer get down from the car and just drive off.”

Jayakumar said the first thing that owners had to do in the event of an accident or theft was to make a police report within 24 hours.

“We would then appoint adjusters to take statements from the insured immediately. They would also go to the scene to investigate and ask questions,” he said.

Based on the adjusters’ findings, the company would then either pay or decline the claim.

Yee and Jayakumar advised car owners to treat their cars as if they did not have an insurance policy on it.

“If you have to wash your car, go to a reputable operator. To be safe, wait there while they wash your car,” he said.

Yee added that simple precautions like turning off the car engine and locking the doors while pumping petrol or running into the house to pick up an item could prevent your car from being driven away.