Although the only fireworks that can be set off tonight consist of pull strings, bright peas and stars, there is a good chance that illegal fireworks will still be set off. Prevent damage to your car with these tips.
The turn of the year is a dangerous time for cars. The paintwork can be damaged, flammable parts such as rubber strips and tires can melt and windows can crack. Moreover, the gunpowder of fireworks is harmful to the paint. This also applies to gunpowder that comes from legal, category 1 fireworks. That in itself is annoying enough for the owners of the car, but there can be an unpleasant surprise. It is by no means self-evident that fireworks damage is covered by your car insurance.
Shortly after the turn of the year – the first with a fireworks ban – the number of damage reports to cars and homes was about 60 percent lower than a year earlier. Still, cars were damaged for at least 1.5 million euros. The actual amount is even higher. The one and a half million is only for private cars that are insured with all-risk or third-party insurance. It is unclear to insurers how many cars with only the mandatory third-party liability cover have suffered damage during the New Year period, because this basic cover does not reimburse fireworks damage. The owner is therefore responsible for the costs of this damage in any case.
Damp old blanket
The best thing, of course, is to prevent fireworks damage to your car. For example, by parking your car in a covered (public) garage. If that doesn’t work, try to avoid open spaces and busy streets where a lot of fireworks are set off. Fireworks are also rarely, if ever, set off at petrol stations and retirement homes. If your car is left outside, a damp old blanket can serve as protection against crashing rockets and paint-destroying gunpowder. Fold in your mirrors and any antennas.
Another great tip: wash your car before New Years Eve. Waxing is even better. Clean cars with smooth paint and a good wax layer are better protected against fireworks residues than dirty cars because the powder slides off more easily. On New Year’s Day, it is best to run your car through the car wash or wash it manually as soon as possible. First rinse your car thoroughly with water before you start soaping, otherwise you will scratch your paint with the fireworks residue.
If fireworks do hit your car, this can be seen from the black-brown discoloration of the paintwork. These smoke marks can usually be removed without any problems with a good polish. Do not do this at too low temperatures, because otherwise it is not easy to rub out. When plastic parts have been touched, a special plastic cleaner should be used. Small scratches in the paint can be treated with a scratch remover. Never use white spirit, thinner or other solvent-based cleaners. In the event of deep scratches or burnt layers of paint, only the car sprayer can ultimately help.
What do you get reimbursed per insurance?
But if something does go wrong, what damage will you and will not be reimbursed? “If fireworks lead to fire damage to your car and there is no intent, you will be reimbursed if you have third-party liability + or all-risk insurance,” says Independer expert Menno Dijcks. “Fire damage and other damage that arises by accident usually have no consequences for your no-claim discount.” This means that your premium does not have to increase by percentage in the new year if your car is the unfortunate target of fireworks.
When there is deliberate intent, for example if fireworks have been pushed into the exhaust, different rules apply. This falls under vandalism. Such damage is only compensated with an all-risk policy. Dijcks: ,,Damage caused by fireworks vandalism is always at the expense of your claim-free years and your no-claim discount.” That means a premium increase, which can only be prevented if you know who the perpetrator is. In that case you can try to recover the damage from him or her. If you succeed, you do not have to claim with your own car insurance and there is therefore no negative impact on your no-claim discount and claim-free years.
Window and paint damage
Fireworks damage doesn’t just mean a car going up in flames from a stray flare or a deliberately placed firecracker. A flying projectile can also cause a crack in your car window. ‘Window damage is reimbursed if you have limited or full comprehensive insurance,’ says Dijcks. Gunpowder falling down, often still burning, can soak into the paint and cause unsightly black spots. Such damage is only covered by an all-risk policy.
You can try cleaning it yourself, but beware: if that only makes it worse, chances are your insurer will no longer cover anything at all. In any case, it is important to check as soon as possible after New Year’s Eve whether your car has been damaged by fireworks residues. Dijcks: ,,You usually have to report damage to the car insurer within three days. The advice is to do this as soon as possible.”
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