• High incidence level of driving through water clogged areas
  • Wrong reaction – cranking engine in water clogged areas
  • Poor understanding – many believe motor insurance covers consequential losses arising out of engine seizure

India continues to see a plethora of new vehicle launches, as consumer show preference to purchase new and innovative models rather than purchase the regular versions. Even as Indians choose the new and innovative, they continue to display lethargy when it comes to safe driving and maintaining their vehicles, especially during monsoon season. It is a common sight to see cars and two wheelers being driven through water clogged areas, posing a threat to the vehicle as well as the passengers.

To understand the current driving behaviour of Indian car owners during rains, ICICI Lombard undertook an on-field survey across 4 metro cities in July. The sample size for the survey was 1000 respondents, current owners of a 4 wheeler vehicle and who had in the past, driven their vehicle during the monsoon season. The majority (56%) of the respondents surveyed were between the age group of 22-35 years old. The company will utilize the findings to create programs aimed at creating awareness among Indian vehicle owners on safe driving during monsoon.

When questioned about the kind of vehicle damages they envisage when it comes to driving their vehicles in the monsoon season, majority of the respondents felt that ‘Tyre Puncture’ (70%) and ‘Damage caused due to potholes’ (61%) were the key perils associated with the season. What’s interesting is that on an average across the 4 cities, people are aware about the damages caused to engine, due to ingression of water while driving through clogged water (26%) and seepage of water inside the engine compartment (53%), when parked in submerged water.

However, Mumbai seems to be unaware of the impact of driving through water clogged roads. Only 13% (the lowest among all 4 cities) were aware of engine seizure in case of driving through water. Again, a lower 43% respondents in Mumbai were aware of seepage of water inside engine compartment during monsoon compared to 4 city average of 53%.

All Figures in %

  All Mumbai Delhi Bangalore Kolkata
Base: All (Figures in absolute numbers) 1000 250 250 250 250
Tyre puncture 70 74 56 76 76
Damage to undercarriage while driving over potholes 61 46 64 59 74
Seepage of water inside vehicle compartment 58 55 64 46 69
Damage to vehicle due to road accidents 57 67 30 59 72
Damage to vehicle due to falling tree/ branches 55 66 31 74 48
Seepage of water inside engine compartment 53 43 66 40 64
Engine cease while driving in water clogged areas 26 13 34 25 32
Headlight off/head lamp damage 1 2 0 0 0

 Despite being aware of the perils caused to the vehicle engine due to water ingression, 72% of respondents admitted to having driven their vehicle in water clogged areas and 34% among them had encountered a situation, where their car had stalled, while driving through low-lying areas. All respondents from Delhi admitted to driving their vehicle in water clogged areas with 61% of the respondents having encountered situations where their cars had stalled while driving through water clogged areas.

Mumbai respondents were more cautious here with 41% respondents having driven through water clogged areas during monsoon and 22% facing an issue while doing the same.

 All figures in %Motor InsThe perturbing fact which came across from the study was that 64% respondents tried to restart the vehicle by pushing with help from passer-bys while 58% respondents admitted to crank the engine for restarting the vehicle, with the vehicle still being part submerged in water.

Despite being cautious of not driving through water, a higher number i.e. 58% of Mumbai respondents tried to crank their vehicle’s engine to restart the vehicle. Bangalore respondents were the most cautious with only 33% trying to forcefully start the engine when stuck on a water clogged road.

All figures in % 

 

Reaction in Water Clogged Area

 

ALL By City
Mumbai Delhi Bangalore Kolkata
Base: All Drove In Water Clogged Area (Figures in absolute numbers) 720 104 250 151 214
Seek help from passer-by to start vehicle by pushing 64 50 53 73 81
Crank the engine for re- starting the vehicle    58 68 65 33 68
Stop the car and leave it till water level recede 48 69 4 66 52
Seek help from a towing company 20 28 4 26 23
Call mechanic 1 0 2 1 0

The limited awareness regarding avoiding driving through water clogged areas is also extended to lack of understanding of the motor insurance policy. Only 35% respondents surveyed were aware that motor insurance does not cover damage to engine if the vehicle is driven through water clogged areas. Kolkata was the least aware with only 11% respondents being aware of the same. To add to this, 41% respondents across the four cities were not sure if their car insurance would cover such instances.

 All figures in %      

Coverage of Insurance if driven through water clogged areas ALL By City
Mumbai Delhi Bangalore Kolkata
Base: All Respondents (Figures in absolute numbers) 1000 250 250 250 250
Yes Insurance covers such damages 24 19 32 12 32
No Insurance does not cover such damages 35 45 41 43 11
Not sure 41 36 27 45 58

A vehicle which is stalled in water is caused due to the mechanical failure called ‘Hydrostatic Lock’, wherein water enters the engine due to driving in flooded waters or by cranking the engine in submerged water, leading to stalling of the vehicle. A mere 7% of the respondents were aware of this technical aspect.

Hydrostatic Lock occurs due to consequence of the driver’s actions once a vehicle is submerged in water and by forcing the car to start by cranking the engine. It is important to note that engine damage due to hydrostatic loss is classified as a ‘consequential loss’ as per motor insurance regulations and is not covered under a regular motor insurance policy. This is because the damage is a consequence of a certain action resulting from having cranked the engine and not an outcome of an uncertain event.

However, today insurance companies do offer Add-on covers such as Engine Protect which reimburses the claims arising from the Engine due to Hydrostatic Lock. Among the respondents, barely 11% of the respondents were aware of this Add-on cover and only 1% had opted for an Engine Protect cover.

All figures in %Motor Ins1

 Your car is indeed a safer vehicle when driving through rains compared to two wheelers and other modes of transport. However, it is extremely essential that we are aware and show caution when driving in the rains.

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