Acts of God 101: What you need to know

A starter pack for natural-disaster claims
by Elaine Lara | Jun 24, 2018


Acts of God’ (AOG) or ‘Acts of Nature’ is an insurance coverage against perils and other convulsions of nature that may or may not be included in your standard car policy. Meaning, you’ll have to check with your insurance company if it’s included in your car's standard policy, or if you’ll need to pay an additional premium for the coverage.

So what's included under the AOG? Here they are:

  • Typhoon and flood
  • Hurricane
  • Volcanic eruption
  • Earthquake 
  • Riot, strike, civil commotion* 
  • Landslide
  • Animals

*may or may not be included, depending on insurance providers

 

Here are some things that you need to note:

Typhoon and flood

  • According to one car insurance provider we asked, there has to be a PAGASA tropical storm declaration for a typhoon. 
  • Some insurance companies will bundle typhoon and flood, so if your car gets flooded sans tropical storm declaration, you may not file claims under the AOG. 
  • You have to be at the right place, at the right time, in an unforeseen or inevitable natural disaster.Take the following scenarios. Scenario 1: Driving along EDSA. Sudden heavy downpour. PAGASA warning. Flood. Scenario 2: Waist-deep flood on EDSA. You decide to risk it and drive out. Car gets damaged. The first scenario is plausible. The second one would be considered as negligence on the part of the vehicle owner.
  • If you live in a flood-prone area, you have to share this with your agent and discuss your options.

Landslide

  • Much like typhoons and floods, there has to be an official announcement or warning from the weather bureaus. 
  • What if you live in a landslide-prone area? Just like with living in a flood-prone area, you have to disclose this. 
  • And if you decide to, for example, drive down Kennon Road despite landslide warnings? Chances are you’ll not be able to file claims under AOG, too. (See: Negligence)

Animals

  • You can say as much as you want that pets are our furry friends from God, but you won’t still be able file damages caused by Bantay under Acts of God. According to our legal columnist Robby Consunji in his Wheels of Justice column in Top Gear Philippines' March 2018 issue: “In general, the liability of an insurance company for AOG covers only wild animals. If the owner of an animal can be identified, the clause will not apply and the owner or the person in possession of the wild animal will be liable for the damages.” 
  • Furthermore, our columnist cites an example when animals may be classified under AOG: “The collision of a car with a wild migratory bird (or a flock of birds) on the expressway may be compensable under the AOG clause. The bird involved in the collision is completely outside the control of any human beings involved. The driver of the car could not have prevented it from being near the road, nor could he have prevented it from colliding with the insured car. Neither can the expressway operator ensure that the expressway is safe from bird strikes.”

Hurricane, sinkholes, volcanic eruption, earthquake, tsunami

  • If these natural disasters are unlikely to happen in your area (or country), chances are the insurance agents will not be able to discuss the process of filing claims for these disasters.
  • Should one happen, though *knocks on wood*, these insurance companies will still turn to PAGASA or other similar bureaus for official declarations of these natural disasters.

Okay, so now that it's clear which ones are covered by AOG, you might be wondering: What do I need to file an AOG claim? Here's your checklist:

  • Police report 
  • Incident report 
  • Official receipt and certificate of registration of the insured car 
  • Driver’s license 
  • Photo of damaged car 
  • Estimated car value 
  • Estimated damage value

Bottom line is, there is no one-for-all-inclusions in the AOG coverage of these insurance companies. It’s not as straightforward as the standard vehicle policy, otherwise, coverage would include damages if you and your car cross the Red Sea. Just clarify, prod, and think of the different ways nature could eff up your car and ask your agent about the scenariono matter how unlikely these instances will happen.

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PHOTO: Top Gear PH
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