Record rains in UAE: Two months on, car insurance claims continue to be filed

Many disputes have risen over huge insurance claims, with insurers investigating if vehicles were intentionally driven through flooded streets

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Waheed Abbas

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Published: Wed 19 Jun 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 19 Jun 2024, 11:00 PM

A large number of insurance claims, both small and large, remain pending while new claims continue to come in even after two months of record rains in the UAE, Khaleej Times has found out.

On April 16 and 17, the country experienced the heaviest rains in 75 years that resulted in large-scale damage of properties and vehicles.


Industry executives said that many disputes are also arising due to claims, especially related to big sums, as many cars that were submerged in the floods were written off.

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Moin ur Rehman, executive director of Unitrust Insurance Broker, said the settlement of small claims by insurers with regard to the floods is still ongoing with a substantial number of claims still being filed, particularly for motor and property insurance.

“There are still a lot of claims being submitted, especially for property and motor insurance, which has had a major impact on insurers. Though not yet finished, the processing of these insurance claims is moving forward. Insurers are still settling small claims pertaining to the rains that hit the UAE in April,” he said.

Toshita Chauhan, business head for health and motor insurance at Policybazaar.ae, said it was unlikely that most of the small car insurance claims from the April 16 rains in the UAE have been settled by insurers yet.

She attributed it to the record-breaking number of claims, repair workshops being overwhelmed with work, a large number of claim verifications, damage assessment, unavailability of car parts and potential coverage disputes.

Avinash Babur, CEO of Insurancemarket.ae, said despite insurers expediting claim approvals, the sheer number of vehicles needing repairs has led to extended waiting times at garages. "This situation is exacerbated by the concurrent demand for non-flood-related vehicle repairs, which are also facing delays due to the workshops operating at full capacity."

Disputes over big claims

Disputes have also emerged over huge insurance claims, especially related to construction and property damage, as well as about customers failing to comply with many criteria related to driving in flooded areas.

Babur said insurers are stringent about this policy — driving through floodwaters is considered a contravention of safe driving practices, and such actions typically void insurance coverage.

“As a result, claims are often contested when evidence shows the vehicle was deliberately driven through hazardous conditions.”

He said disputes mainly revolved around the cause and timing of the vehicle damage.

“For large claims, insurers are particularly vigilant in investigating whether the vehicles were intentionally driven through flooded streets. Disagreements frequently arise when the insured parties contest the findings of the insurers' investigations, often arguing that the damage occurred under unavoidable circumstances or was not directly linked to their driving decisions during the rainfall.”

Moin ur Rehman said the heavy rainfall caused severe damage, potentially leading to lawsuits against building experts for concerns such as flooding and structural deficits.

“Furthermore, disputes have developed as a result of insurers denying claims, particularly when customers failed to comply with certain criteria, such as driving through flooded areas.”

He added that large-scale claims disputes included construction-related matters such as structural flaws, poor drainage, and design and supervision shortcomings. “Misunderstandings regarding the differences in coverage between comprehensive and third-party plans are another reason why insurers are rejecting claims; these exclusions are especially common.”

Toshita Chauhan said disputes are arising around large car claims as insurance companies are disputing whether the rain was the sole cause of damage. They might argue pre-existing conditions like rust, dents, or mechanical issues contributed to the overall damage.

“The insurance company in a few cases also claimed driver negligence played a role in the damage. This could involve driving through flooded areas deemed unsafe or ignoring warnings. Such situations fall under policy exclusions, leading to disputes.”

Other reasons that are leading to disputes are failure on the part of policyholders to share proper documentation to support their claims and disagreements over the extent of damage.

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