An unfortunate incident

It’s 11:59pm. You and your family has just celebrated a relative’s birthday and you’re driving back to Singapore from Malacca. Your kids are asleep at the back and you’re reminiscing with your spouse the great time spent with relatives & friends, many of whom you haven’t seen in years. It’s the end of a perfect day.

Bang! The car shuddered and the steering wheel jerked to the right, snapping out of your hands. You jammed on the brakes. The car swerved to the right and prowled into a ditch. Boom! The airbags deployed and a curse word left your mouth.

As your vision cleared, you begin to hear crying and car honks on top of the ringing in your ear. As you look around, you see 12:00am, your spouse looks dazed, your kids are up and crying but otherwise unhurt. You look outside and people & motorcycles are converging around your car and you thought, “What just happened?”

Motor accidents happen more often than you think

Events like this happen every hour of every day in Malaysia. According to statistics from Michigan University, Malaysia has a high road fatality rate of 30 per 100,000 people. There are roughly 6300 fatalities on Malaysia roads yearly. Obviously, the number of motor accidents with non-fatal injuries or no injuries are much higher.

My client recently got into an accident in Malacca. Fortunately, there was no bodily injury nor 3rd-party property damage. His car did its job and protected the occupants. However, it sustained serious damage to front-right suspension with cracked rim, destroyed tyre and tie-rod. There may be further damage to the undercarriage.

* For clarity, the information is accurate as of Feb 2016

Help is a few phone calls away

One of the first thing he did was call me. This is after 12am but I always tell my clients it’s ok to call me at any time if it’s an emergency. He wanted to know if it’s cheaper to repair his car in Malacca, or have it towed back to Singapore to be repaired at an AIG authorised workshop.

Since my mind isn’t exactly in gear yet, it’s almost 1am mind you, I gave him AIG 24/7 roadside assistance hotline so he can talk to the experts first. During this time, I pulled out his policy and went through the benefits.

AIG AutoPlus covers from Singapore to 80km north of the Thai-Malaysian border so towing back to Singapore (due to accident) is covered up to $500. Since he has NCD protector, even if he did an own damage claim, next year premium will not be adversely affected. With 50% NCD, he also has an excess waiver of up to $600.

I called the same AIG Hotline at around 1am to get additional information and to confirm the coverage terms & conditions but the call centre officer cannot provide claims information. They can only arrange roadside assistance, towing services and help manage emergency services if needed. They were also unable to quote towing charges in Malaysia because the service provider doesn’t operate at 1am, which is fair.

So next morning, I called AIG Claims department to confirm all the benefits for my client and also AIG Hotline to get the towing charges, which comes up to RM1450, of which RM200 is a non-claimable levy. The towing provider can provide towing service up to KL, so do take note if you intend to drive further north. The charges will be more!

AIG was very fast in providing these information, which I relayed to my client via WhatsApp.

SMSes gets expensive real fast when each message takes 3 SMSes to send! And these charges cannot be claimed under AIG AutoPlus. You need to buy a Travel insurance like AIG TravelGuard. And yes! You can buy a travel insurance when you self-drive in Malaysia!

Claims experience

For a normal car insured under AIG AutoPlus, the claim is pretty straight forward.

  • Report the accident to Malaysian police. This is important because it sets the facts right so in future, no one in Malaysia can send you a lawyer letter claiming you hit their car or property. Or if property damage occurred, there is document + photographic proof so the property owner cannot over-claim from you
  • Call AIG Hotline to arrange for the towing services from Malaysia
  • If you’re not following the tow truck, you need to prepare photocopies of your Passport, Driver License, Certificate of Insurance & LTA vehicle registration. This is needed for the tow truck driver to verify with Customs authorities the intention to send the car back to a Singapore workshop
  • (AIG didn’t mention this but I think it’s a good idea to photocopy the Malaysian Police report just in case)
  • Pay RM1450 to the tow-truck driver, you can claim back RM1250 from AIG or up to $500 depending on exchange rates
  • Repairs done at AIG Authorised workshop enjoy up to $600 excess waiver, so if your excess is less than $1200, you don’t have to pay anything
  • When you get back to Singapore, you get to enjoy up to 10 days of free Replacement Vehicle
  • Lastly, you need to produce the Malaysian Police report and file an Accident Report as per GIA guideline immediately upon returning to Singapore, or earliest possible if you or your occupant sustained injuries

What happens if you drive a high-cc or sports car and your excess is very high, like $3000? This is when it may make sense to engage a workshop in Malaysia if, 1) it’s a trustworthy workshop & 2) the damage is not too severe. So how do you calculate when it’s worth to repair in Malaysia? (This assumes SGD:MYR exchange rate at 1:3)

  1. If your car got into an accident north of KL, the towing charges increase beyond RM1450. Let’s say it’s Malacca, so only RM200 cannot be claimed
  2. At $3000 excess, the excess waiver only covers $600, so you need to fork out $2400 or RM7200
  3. If the repairs cost less than RM7400, you may consider getting it done in Malaysia if you know the workshop because it means you get to drive the car back
  4. If your NCD is NOT 50% and/or you don’t have NCD Protector, during the next renewal the NCD will drop 30%! Which translate to a huge increase in premium, meaning you may prefer to take the risk in Malaysia since it’ll take 3 years to get back this 30% NCD and you will suffer 3 years of high insurance premium

Getting your car done in Malaysia does carry the risk that the workshop may not spot all the problems and repair everything. If you return to Singapore and the car breaks down, you still have to send your car to an AIG Authorised workshop and you’d STILL incur the excess of $3000, which you have to co-pay $2400.

I don’t see much information on this topic when I searched online so I hope my article will help someone in future in this kind of unfortunate event.

So far, my experience with AIG Motor claims & Emergency Hotline has been very positive. I have no problem encouraging my AIG Motor insurance clients to explore Malaysia at their leisure. It’s a great country to visit, as I’ve done on numerous occasions with no problems at all, not to mention our favourable exchange rates makes everything cheaper! 🙂

Published: 8 March 2016
Update 1: 9 March 2016 – Grammer & new facts

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