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Last updated Monday, Jan 17, 2022 01:22 PM

Road safety

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Staying safe in a flood

Floodwater can be unpredictable and quickly wash out roads and sweep away vehicles. We're here to help you and your loved ones stay safe with these tips.

Be prepared

If you're preparing for possible flooding or on evacuation alert, it's a good idea to locate and pack important documents in a waterproof bag or container to avoid losing them or having to replace them if they get damaged. These documents may include:

  • Identification such as your B.C. driver's licence, B.C. identification card, B.C. Services Card, passport, and original copies of your birth certificate, marriage certificate, and Canadian citizenship documentation.
  • A copy of your vehicle registration, licence and Autoplan insurance documents.
  • Other documents such as a copy of your home insurance policy and banking/financial information—or anything you may not be able to access remotely or online.
Don't store valuables in your vehicle as these items are not covered by your vehicle insurance if damaged or stolen.

If any of your vehicles, including motor homes, trailers or snowmobiles, are parked in low-lying areas that may be subject to flooding, find a safe location on high ground to park them. If your vehicle is uninsured or unlicensed, you can purchase a temporary operating permit with coverage that includes basic insurance from any Autoplan broker to operate it on the road.

In case of an emergency, have a “grab-and-go" bag ready in case you need to leave immediately.

Driving tips

It's important to stay away from floodwater, including walking or driving, as much as possible. Flooded rivers and streams are unpredictable – they can carry debris and toxic chemicals, and quickly destroy roads, bridges and cause landslides.

Avoid driving in evacuation areas, be prepared and plan an alternate route in case the road you want to use is closed. Check DriveBC.ca before travelling for the latest road conditions and EmergencyInfoBC.ca for information about areas under evacuation alerts and orders.

If you find yourself on a road that's flooded, the best choice is to turn around if you can do so safely. If a road is marked as closed, do not continue.

Floodwater can quickly sweep away vehicles. The maximum water depth you can drive a standard car through is about 10 centimetres. Fifteen centimetres of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling and damage to the mechanical and electrical components of your vehicle. Thirty centimetres or a foot of water will float many vehicles.

Water can also hide dips and potholes in the road as well as submerged trees or downed power lines. Without being able to see the road's surface, you may hit something and cause major damage to your vehicle (on top of possible flood damage).

If you absolutely must drive through flooded roads to get to safety, try to calculate the water depth, any potential hazards below and anticipate how your vehicle may respond. Be extra cautious when driving at night because it'll be more difficult to spot hazards. If your vehicle stalls, be prepared to abandon it and move safely to higher ground.

If water has entered your vehicle, don't attempt to start it as that can cause more damage (and any resulting damage may not be covered by your insurance). Get your vehicle towed to a qualified professional to ensure it's safe to operate.

If you made it through a flooded road and your engine is still running, your vehicle should still be checked by a qualified professional as soon as possible.

If your vehicle is damaged, we'll do everything we can to help. You can report a claim online or by phone (1-800-910-4222) at any time.

Insurance coverage for flooding

We recommend collision and comprehensive or specified perils for all our customers, especially those who live in areas that are susceptible to flooding. You can renew your policy up to 44 days before it expires. If you don't have this coverage, you may purchase it from an Autoplan broker before a River Forecast Centre flood warning.

If your vehicle is damaged by flooding or landslides while parked, it would typically be covered under comprehensive insurance coverage. If you had to drive into and through a body of water, it would typically be covered under collision coverage.

In any situation, you can rest assured that we will do everything we can to support and help you access your coverages to repair or replace your vehicle in the event of a flood.

If your vehicle is uninsured or unlicensed and there is a River Forecast Centre flood warning applicable to your vehicle's location, or if you've been ordered to evacuate or placed on evacuation alert, you won't be able to ​purchase new comprehensive or specified perils coverage, but you can still buy basic and collision coverages or a temporary operating permit with basic coverage to move your vehicle to safety. Once the vehicle has been removed from the designated warning, alert or evacuation zone, or once those zones are no longer active, you can purchase comprehensive or specified perils coverage.

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