Many cars were damaged by falling trees during the heavy storm in Abu Dhabi earlier this month Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/XPRESS

ABU DHABI: Indian motorist Aravind Nair, a resident of Discovery Gardens in Dubai, hit a lamppost while trying to rescue his car from the flood caused by the recent thunderstorms. The mishap left a dent on the bumper also damaged the ignition coils.

When he called his auto insurance company he was told his policy did not cover damages from natural disasters. “I pay a premium of Dh1,200, but the insurance company refused to fix the damages,” said Nair, whose vehicle remains unrepaired.

Abu Dhabi resident Mujeebur Amanulla from Bangladesh has yet to get his car repaired for the same reason. The roof of his Toyota Yaris was severely damaged when flying debris hit his car in a parking lot. “It will cost around Dh4,500 to repair it. Of what use is my insurance if I have to foot the bill?” asked Amanulla.

Nair and Amanulla are among scores who are crying foul over their insurance firm’s refusal to repair vehicles damaged during the thunderstorms.

Insurance companies said they cover damage from natural disasters, but only few motorists in the UAE opt for it.

Lazhar Charfeddine, chief operations officer at ADNIC (Abu Dhabi National Insurance Company), said they offer the option to include protection from natural disasters in all their comprehensive policies. “The cover for natural disasters is optional and comes for a small fee, but customers don’t go for it in order to reduce cost,” said Charfeddine.

He said, in the wake of the storm, there has an increased uptake for this particular cover on both motor and home insurance.

“People don’t learn from the past and try to make savings at the wrong end. We have seen customers facing uninsured losses after every major weather disaster,” he said.

David Harris, director of marketing and affinity of RSA Insurance, UAE and Bahrain, said their enhanced motor protection policy covers damages resulting from natural calamities. “This includes replacement of parts and rent-a-car benefits during the time of repair We treat it as a typical motor accident claim. As long as a policyholder is able to provide a police report for the incident, we cover the damage resulting from flooding,” said Harris.

A senior motor insurance expert who did not want to be named said: “Your coverage varies depending on your policy and the insurer you choose. So it is important to go policy shopping to get the best deal. However, most motorists don’t buy additional insurance to cover natural disasters. You can’t afford to be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to car insurance. Car owners should read their policy documents carefully to see what’s listed under ‘exclusions’ and ask for add-on services before they sign on the dotted line,” he said.