On the roof of a Genesis and surrounded by flood waters, a man stares at his smartphone. He has been named the “Wiseman of Seocho” and has inspired memes, parodies and gags.
Roads in Seoul and surrounding areas resemble those in a zombie apocalypse film, with cars abandoned every which way apparently in a rush.
These are scenes from the Great Deluge of 2022, by some accounts the worst flooding in decades.
The Seocho District Office said it has been moving vehicles ditched overnight to the side of the road since the break of dawn, many owners not picking up their phones when called.
According to the General Insurance Association, 2,300 vehicles have been damaged by the downpour as reported to four non-life insurers — Samsung Fire & Marine, Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance, DB Insurance and KB Insurance.
The losses are estimated at around 32.6 billion won ($25 million), a number that could increase as the heavy rains are forecast to continue through Wednesday.
Inoperable vehicles were especially concentrated in the Gangnam area, including Seocho and Songpa, where the single day accumulation of rain was more than 300 millimeters.
Among the 500 or so vehicles reported as damaged by Samsung Fire & Marine, 200 or so were imports.
The last time the country suffered a major downpour was in the summer of 2020.
According to the insurance association, between July and September that year, when the country suffered a major downpour and faced three major typhoons, 21,194 vehicles were reported damaged. They were valued at 115.7 billion won.
The insurance agencies say most of the damage will be covered by insurance. If contracts do not cover damage by objects other than cars, some claims could be rejected.
Vehicles that were damaged as a result of owner negligence, such as leaving the window down or driving in a restricted area, might not be fully covered.
Those parked in a parking lot next to a river or a stream that flooded may have to make claims via the insurer of the lot owner.
If the vehicle is completely submerged and can’t be repaired, the insurance company marks it as a total loss and purchases it from the driver.
Between 2017 and July 2020, 7,100 vehicles out of a total of 10,857 vehicles reported as damaged by flood were labeled as totaled.
The owner of a flooded vehicle can get an exemption on acquisition and registration taxes when purchasing a new car after turning in a certificate proving that their vehicle was registered as a total loss by the insurance company.
One of the biggest concerns is electric vehicles and hybrids, especially considering that the batteries are placed at the bottom of the vehicle, which is most exposed in time of heavy rain.
The possibility of being electrocuted is unlikely due to ingress protection systems, including tight seals and waterproofed battery packs.
There are also sensors in major components, including the battery, that detect water. When exposed, the systems automatically shut down.
BY LEE HO-JEONG, SONG SEUNG-HWAN [email@example.com]