Insurance companies inundated with claims for water-damaged vehicles

Cars were abandoned in the Seocho district, south of Seoul, on Tuesday after heavy rain on Monday. [NEWS1]

Insurance companies are facing costly claims due to record rainfall in Seoul.

According to the General Insurance Association of Korea, 5,657 reports were made to the five major insurance companies – Samsung Fire and Marine, DB Insurance, Hyundai Marine Fire and Insurance, Meritz Fire and Marine Insurance and KB Insurance – regarding vehicles damaged by flooding from Wednesday morning due to heavy rainfall in Seoul.

The five companies are expected to spend about 77.4 billion won ($59 million) on insurance payments, with imported cars costing them 42.4 billion won.

As of Wednesday morning, Samsung Fire and Marine Insurance received 2,371 reports of flood-damaged cars, which is expected to cost the company an insurance claim of 40 billion won. Of the total, 939 involved owners of imported cars, at a cost of about 25.1 billion won.

DB Insurance received 1,247 reports for flood-damaged cars as of midnight Tuesday, with imported cars accounting for 397 cases. The company is expected to pay around 15.6 billion won for the insurance.

Hyundai Marine and Fire Insurance received damage reports for 1,047 cars Wednesday morning, including 245 imported cars. KB Insurance received 739 reports Tuesday evening, including 266 imported cars.

The Gangnam district in southern Seoul was one of the areas hardest hit by the torrential rains. This area is also known to house many expensive imported cars.

“Those in the auto insurance division are panicking as there are a lot of damage reports from the Gangnam area,” an insurance company spokesperson said. “Cars that are flooded are written off, and insurance companies will have to pay huge compensation for damage to expensive imported cars.”

Cars are declared written off when the costs of repairing the vehicles exceed the value of the car.

With rains expected to continue through the week, more claims are expected to be filed.

According to the Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance Research Lab, 56.3% of flood-damaged cars were outside when torrential rains fell. Dongjak district in southern Seoul recorded hourly rainfall of 137 millimeters between 9 and 10 p.m. Monday, breaking the previous record of 118.6 millimeters in 1942.

BY BAE JAE-SUNG, LEE TAE-HEE [[email protected]]

Kristan F. Talley