Storm swamps car insurance firms

Updated: 2013-10-14 23:57

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Car insurance companies have received tens of thousands of claims from drivers after Shanghai was lashed by a fierce rainstorm last week, the heaviest to hit the city in five decades.

China Pacific Insurance said it had received more than 13,000 claims related to the rainstorm in Shanghai and neighboring Zhejiang province as of Oct 10, two days after the storm.

Storm swamps car insurance firms
Policemen in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, register car license plates on Monday, that were found after part of the city flooded after a storm brought by Typhoon Fitow last week. More than 500 plates have still to be collected by their owners. Zhang Peijian / Xinhua

A Buick car dealer in the city's Minhang district said he had dealt with such claims from nearly 100 car owners by Oct 11, many times the number for an average rainy day.

The rainstorm brought by Typhoon Fitow hit Shanghai and Zhejiang province from Oct 7 to 8, forcing both locations to declare red weather alerts.

Car insurance insiders said companies would cover the cost of maintenance and cleaning if cars were submerged in water, provided the owner has comprehensive insurance that covers damage to vehicles.

But in Shanghai's Jiading district, which was badly hit by flooding, some car owners are locked in compensation disputes with the managers of several underground car parks after their cars were inundated for 50 hours.

"The car insurance company has paid me more than 348,000 yuan ($56,900) for compensation based on the insurance I bought. But I still suffered a huge loss and I'll sue the parking lot manager," said Chen Feng, who lives in the neighboring city of Anbo and bought his Cadillac for 600,000 yuan in March of last year.

Most of the affected car owners echoed Chen's feeling that the company that manages the garages should pay compensation due to dereliction of duty.

"The garage manager didn't put sandbags at the garage entrances to prevent the rainwater from rushing in. The water pumps were not working. And they didn't tell us to move the cars out when the water continued to rise during that night," said a BMW owner, who gave only her surname, Yang.

She said she received 120,000 yuan from the insurance company but she wanted to abandon her car and claim full compensation.

"There's no way that I can be reassured that a car that has been submerged completely in water for 50 hours is still safe, even after maintenance. I think it's risky to drive such a car on the road, which is irresponsible for ourselves, our families and others," she said.

Zhou Wenchao, who has worked in the car industry for three years, said the soaking might cause damage to various systems in a vehicle and create safety problems.

The property management company, Shanghai Nonggongshang Wangdu, admitted it had made mistakes, but said it is still waiting for the results of a police investigation.