Updated:03/08/2020 17: 18h
The misuse of flammable material inside the vehicle, a breakdown, a forest fire that we can find on our way or, as happened last weekend in the Sierra de Madrid, an accident, may be the causes of is provoked a fire in our car or motorcycle. In any case, you have to be very careful because if we do not know the causes of the fire or the nature of the vehicle’s liquids, when trying to extinguish it we can generate a greater catastrophe. Next we analyze how to act before the different types of fire.
If we are in the middle of a forest fire, it is recommended to stop in a protected place, not to go through areas with smoke, close doors and windows of the car, and stop the ventilation of the vehicle. Too it is important to turn on the headlights to facilitate the location of the car in the middle of the smoke and notify 112 of the situation. It is advisable to follow the instructions of the fire brigade and the police, and at all times go in the opposite direction to the fire until you reach a safe place. In this escape, it is necessary to avoid slopes and narrow valleys and take refuge in wells or caves because the oxygen there can quickly run out. If we are near a lake or river, it is advisable to approach the water and, if necessary, go inside.
Although unusual, a breakdown can cause a fire in the engine. As soon as smoke is detected, it is advisable to park the vehicle and, if possible, use a fire extinguisher. It is not common for the car to explode due to fire (as seen in movies). If a fire extinguisher is not available, it is best not to open the hood, so that the flames have more difficulty spreading. In the case of a motorcycle, if we do not have a fire extinguisher we can try to smother the flames with sand or earth.
Inside the vehicle
If the fire occurs inside the vehicle the danger is greater, since the seats and the roof are made of highly flammable materials, and can generate toxic smoke. After turning off the ignition of the car, the best thing in this case (if you do not have a fire extinguisher), is to close the doors and windows so that oxygen does not enter and thus make the flames go out more quickly.
Regarding insurance coverage, it is necessary that we have contracted fire coverage. Another essential requirement for insurance to come into play is that there is no third party responsible for the damages.
If the fire has not completely burned our vehicle, but has affected certain parts such as wheels, seats, engine … the insurance will indemnify us with the value of the new part.
But … watch out for the tires! If these have burned, we must take into account the variables handled by each company to know what the type of compensation will be. The reason is simple: with some melted rubber, it is impossible to know the state they were in before the fire. For this reason, to avoid paying more than their possible cost, many insurances choose to grant a certain percentage of the value of new tires.
If the car has been completely burned, something very likely, for example, in a forest fire, we would be within the total loss clause of the car or what we usually know as “total loss”. Here comes into play the famous small print, to which you should pay special attention, since it varies according to the insurance company.
Most often compensate for what is known as new value and venal value. The first of them affects us if our car is two or less years old. Then, insurance will cover the full cost of the new model. After that time, the venal value enters the scene and means that the economic retribution will be made taking into account the price of the car in the second-hand market, according to the model and the years it had.
The Insurance Compensation Consortium only covers personal damages, that is, those caused to the people participating in the fire fighting.