Every year starting in May and June, southwest monsoon will sweep through Hong Kong, bringing with it rain and strong winds. From typhoons Hato and Mangkhut, to last year’s black rainstorm that caused flooding in various districts, everyone should have a fresh memory of the destructive powers of the fierce winds and rain.
Probably because of climate change, once-in-a-century extreme weather events have happened regularly in recent years. Last June for instance, a black rainstorm signal was suddenly hoisted for the first time in the year, on one day’s morning when people were getting to work. Even the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Tunnel that had only been opened for half a year was flooded with all its lanes closed, while a mudslide has occurred in Cheung Sha on Lantau Island1.
Everyone knows bad weather such as fierce winds and heavy rain have a huge impact on driving safety. Here, let me Smart Living@Kenneth share with you some pointers on safe driving during bad weather that deserve extra attention, and talk about the importance of car insurance, so everyone will feel safe and assured to drive.
Know the flooding blackspots, and times of heavy rain to stay safe
As car owners, I always worry that my vehicle will get into deep trouble during heavy rain, and sustain heavy damage. The flooding disaster in many districts last year during the black rainstorm is fresh on many people’s minds. At the time, not only hill trails, but also normally busy main thoroughfares such as Tai Hom Road outside Hollywood Plaza in Diamond Hill, Kwun Tong Road outside the Kwun Tong fire station, and Lung Cheung Road in Wong Tai Sin have turned into water channels, with the water up to people’s waists, flooding many vehicles even causing engine failures.
Even though not all rainstorms end up with such dramatic scenes, but if we do need to drive under a rainstorm, do keep in mind some flooding blackspots and avoid low-lying areas and hillside roads. According to the Drainage Department, Hong Kong still has 4 flooding blackspots2, which are in San Tin’s Shek Wu Wai in Yuen Long, the Lam Tsuen Valley Basin in Tai Po, Chatham Road South in Tsim Sha Tsui and Pok Fu Lam Village in the Southern District.
Other than avoiding these blackspots, the Hong Kong Observatory also estimates that the duration of red and black rainstorm warnings are 1.5 and 2.5 times longer if they are hoisted in the morning (00-12hours) than if they are in the afternoon (12-24hours). In terms of frequency, the warnings are also hoisted 2 and 1.5 times more in the morning than the afternoon3.
That’s why when the Observatory has issued a bad weather forecast, we should consider the timing of our drive. Even if it’s not raining heavily yet, we should still embark on our trip in the afternoon as much as we can when the odds of a heavy rain are lower.
Pay attention to surroundings when parking
Besides, under extreme weather, the accidental losses to your vehicle can happen not only when you are driving. Many owners forget they can still incur huge losses when parking in a carpark.
In recent years, falling trees have become a severe problem. During Super typhoon Mangkhut, the government has received over 60,800 reports of fallen trees4. Media reports in 2018 have estimated that there are close to 80 fallen tree incidents on average every month, with the Islands, Central and Western, Sai Kung and Yuen Long districts being the hardest hit5. In April, a tree in Mongk Kok cracked suddenly, and fell into an open space parking lot, hitting two vehicles in the roof6.
Apart from falling trees, we should also check whether there are risks of falling objects when parking outside, such as falling concrete near a construction site, or falling clothes hangers from the windows of old buildings. If the situation allows, try parking in some deserted open space.
Besides, basement carparks can be a high-risk spot for flooding. Speaking of it, many people will instantly think of Heng Fa Chuen. But a read through past news and you will find quite a few carparks have been flooded before, including in Eightland Gardens in Tai Po7, Twin Peaks in Tseung Kwan O8 and Pictorial Garden in Sha Tin9. To avoid these unexpected disasters, try moving your vehicle temporarily to multi-storey carparks with lower flood risks.
3 super typhoons in 4 years: comprehensive coverage offers best protection
Of course, car owners mostly will pay attention to these potential hazards and avoid damages to their vehicles. But accidents are unforeseen, no matter how cautious we are, sometimes they are unavoidable. In order to minimise property damage in case of accidents, comprehensive coverage thus becomes vital.
Speaking of car insurance, does everyone know when super typhoon Mangkhut hit Hong Kong in 2018, what is the compensation claim amount involving vehicles?
The answer is HK$113 million10.
Perhaps some would think car insurance doesn’t mean much in normal times, but typhoon Hato in 2017, Mangkhut in 2018 and the fierce black rainstorm in 2020, have shown Hong Kong can experience super storms that caused severe floods and paralysed traffic thrice in four years, highlighting the importance of car insurance, especially the well-rounded comprehensive coverage.
Comprehensive coverage, not only can compensate your losses when your vehicle unfortunately gets involved in an accident, it can even give for example 24-hour, free, emergency towing services in the event of engine failure during heavy rain and move your vehicle to the nearest repair centre. On the other hand, there will be usually be an extra amount of pebbles and stones on the road after rainfall, meaning they are likely to hit your vehicle when you drive on the highway, therefore damaging the windscreen. At this time, you will be given a free replacement without having to pay for any ‘deductible amount’.
More importantly, as a homecaring car owner, if your vehicle engine fails because you accidentally drive through a water pothole, and your vehicle ends up having to be sent away for repair, then you can get an allowance for rental car, so that your whole family including the elderly and small kids can still use a vehicle to get around. All in all, comprehensive coverage actually provides many thoughtful protections, and spares you the trouble of thinking and worrying too much.
Watch the clip and learn more about the coverage and protection of comprehensive car coverage.
1. Website of HK01:
2. Website of Drainage Services Department:
3. Website of Hong Kong Observatory:
4. Website of Oriental Daily:
5. Website of HK01:
6. Website of HK01:
7. Website of Sing Tao:
8. Website of HK01:
9. Website of Ming Pao:
10. Website of HK01:
The above content is reviewed by Mr Kenneth Lai - P&C Distribution Director of AXA Hong Kong and Macau
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