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What to do if your car catches fire in Singapore.
Car fires are thankfully rare. But they can be extremely dangerous and distressing. Get expert tips on what to do and how to make a car insurance claim should the worst happen.
There have been several car fire incidents that have hit the headlines recently with dramatic and distressing footage being shared on social media.
In one incident, a car lost control when braking on the PIE. The vehicle and driver spun 180 degrees before the car burst into flames. Two other cars were also involved but thankfully no one was hurt. It's thought the fire was started from the engine.
In another case, residents at a block of flats in Tampines heard several loud explosions when a parked Mercedes-Benz car caught fire. The fire service was called and extinguished the blaze within minutes and thankfully no one was injured.
Another motorist had a lucky escape when she alighted her parked vehicle in a Tiong Bahru carpark and found smoke billowing from it. Seconds later there was an explosion and the car was on fire. The driver called the emergency services who put out the fire. The car was just over four years old.
What are the chances of your car catching fire?
Overall the average number of car fires in Singapore has hovered around 208 cases per year. This makes motor vehicle fires one of the top reported incidents of all non-building fire accidents. If the number of cars in Singapore remain around the current 7 year average of 613,000, the chances of your car catching fire in a given year would be 0.03%, which would increase to 1% over the course of 30 years, according to a report by ValueChampion. Though the percentage seems small, car fires are high impact accidents whose damage extends beyond just the car and the driver to surrounding vehicles, passengers and public structures. For these types of risk events, you should always have a contingency plan just in case (i.e. routine maintenance and having a backup plan in the event it happens), otherwise you run the risk of having thousands of dollars worth of damage.
Why do cars catch fire?
Experts say there is rarely one single reason behind most car fires, more likely a combination of human, mechanical and chemical issues. A car may overheat, leak fuel, short circuit or an accident can cause a fire when the petrol tank or engine has taken a major hit. A spark or a ruptured battery in your engine can cause a fire.
The two most common causes of car fires, however, are fuel system leaks due to faults in fuel line connectors, carburetors or fuel injection systems and electrical system failures starting from fault conditions between the battery and starter cables, or high voltage that can generate a spark in the spark ignition engine.
These causes make sense considering the sheer number of flammable components in a car like fuel, engine oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid and brake fluid. Due to this, maintenance neglect and impacts (such as car accidents) make your car highly susceptible to fires, especially when they cause even a small damage on a component with flammable materials.
What to do if your car catches fire
If you smell or see smoke or think your car may catch fire, get out quickly, move away and call the emergency services. Alert others and keep them away. A fire will take hold very quickly and can cause an explosion, even within seconds of discovering smoke. If you have a fire extinguisher, you can attempt to quell a small fire by cracking open the hood and using the fire extinguisher from a few feet away. However, you should be careful not to open the hood all the way as the oxygen can make the fire grow. If the fire becomes uncontrollable or you notice it coming from the rear of the car, do not attempt to extinguish it and call emergency services.
Does car insurance cover me if my car catches fire?
You can call your insurer's emergency assistance number as soon as you get to safety and after calling emergency services. If your insurer provides this benefit, you may get a visit from their emergency response team, who will offer guidance on what to do after the accident, provide towing services and help you navigate the claims process.
Some insurers will also provide alternative transport while you repair your car or purchase a new one. If the fire was due to a collision, you should be careful not to admit any guilt or liability and do not offer a settlement to the other parties involved until authorities arrive on the scene.
Afterwards, you should make sure you have all the required documents to submit your claim, including a police report, GIA accident report, insurer's surveyor's report and the Singapore Civil Defence Force's fire investigation report.
If you were injured, you should also submit a medical report. In the event your claim is successful, your insurer will either pay for repairs up to the market value of your car or pay out the full market value of your car in the event of total loss so that you can get a new car. However, you should be aware that you will suffer a drop in your NCD if you or your negligence is found to be the cause of the fire. If you were not at fault for the cause of the fire, then your NCD should not be affected.
Footage of a car fire
Finally, check out this video from our partner Beh Chia Lor. A passing driver has captured the moment a car sets alight at traffic lights. See how quickly the fire gets out of control.
Car fires can and do happen, although thankfully they are rare. Make sure you are not left out of pocket. Get covered with Budget Direct Insurance.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, it’s vital to have good Car cover.
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