Bad weather is bad news for vehicles

Just two weeks of severe weather has brought a heavy toll to Britain’s motorists as well as to home owners according to figures for the AA.

Over the fortnight since 28 June, when heavy rain flooded several parts of the UK and storms lobbed hailstones the size and weight of cricket balls across the East Midlands, AA Insurance has estimated over 14,000 cars have been severely damaged or written off by the weather.

The news comes as large parts of Scotland, including the South West and Borders, are under Amber weather warnings until Friday (July 13).

Director Simon Douglas said the AA’s own claims staff have dealt with over 400 claims for cars damaged by hail or flooding.

“Scaled up nationally, this equates to over 14,000 cars damaged by the weather in less than two weeks, to the tune of at least £35 million*,” he said. “We noticed a sharp claims ‘spike’ at lunchtime on 28 June with a large number of claims for cars in Leicestershire that had been battered by giant hailstones. That storm alone led to just over 200 claims.”

One customer said that his car ‘looked like a golf ball’ with the number of dents after being hammered by ‘golf-ball sized’ hailstones. Another said his car was ‘destroyed’ by ‘lumps of ice as big and heavy as cricket balls’. Hundreds of workers returned to their cars that evening to find them damaged.

“Hail can ruin a car,” Mr Douglas said. “If it has perhaps hundreds of dents in the roof, bonnet and boot panels it will probably be uneconomical to repair it. We are seeing several cars being written-off in this way.

“Since then, we have dealt with a large number of claims for cars affected by floodwater,” he continued. “Again, insurers usually write cars off that have been submerged because electronic systems are likely to be affected, while brakes and engine components may also be damaged beyond repair. And, if water is sucked into the air intake while the car is running, which can happen if you hit flood water at any speed, the engine will almost certainly be destroyed.”

During the downpours, the AA’s roadside patrols were also called out to hundreds of motorists who had driven through or become stuck in flood water or mud.

“Never attempt to drive through flood water – you can’t tell how deep it is or what the water might be hiding” said Mr Douglas. “If you hit deep water your car will be swamped. Fast flowing water can very easily sweep your car off the road, putting your life at danger, too. We have taken distressing claims for cars lost in this way.”

The AA have issued the following motoring flood advice:

- Keep speed down, be watchful for standing water and not risk driving through flood water .

- Don’t try driving through fast-moving water – you could easily get swept away.

- Driving fast through standing water is dangerous; tyres lose contact with the road and you lose steering control – known as “aquaplaning”. If this happens, hold the steering wheel lightly and lift off the throttle until the tyres regain grip .

- If you break down in heavy rain, don’t prop the bonnet open while you wait for help to arrive. The engine will be more difficult to start again if the electrics are rain-soaked.