The festive season is officially here, but before you bust out your party vibes, make sure you have made responsible driving arrangements so that you stay safe and don’t breach your insurance policy in terms of cover. reports
Despite changes in social attitudes, the rate of positive tests for alcohol in people killed in traffic crashes rose sharply in the first decade of the new millennium, according to the Automobile Association of SA. In a country with more than 9 million drivers, about 3 000 cases of driving under the influence are opened each month.
Driving while drunk is not only illegal, it invalidates your insurance cover with short-term insurers not covering accident damage.
The country’s largest short-term insurer, Santam, has a strict policy in this regard. A person who is under the influence of alcohol is in everyday language “drunk”.
Marius Neethling, manager of personal lines underwriting at Santam, says: “Our policy is clear, in that if policyholders are using the vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, or their blood or breath alcohol concentration exceeds the legal limit, then they are not covered by the policy for any vehicle accidents that occur at such time.
“These claims are rejected in full once it is established that the driver was under the influence of alcohol, or had blood or breath alcohol concentration above the legal limit,” he says.
Franna Benade, MiWay’s general manager of the claims department, notes that a large number of accidents on South African roads are attributed to driving under the influence of alcohol, and that a direct link between increased risk and insurance premiums is prevalent, and affects both insurers and clients paying an insurance premium.
In line with legislation, MiWay clearly states in its policy documents that no person will be covered if the driver of the insured vehicle is under the influence of alcohol or drugs; has a blood alcohol level that exceeds the legal limit; fails a Breathalyser test; or refuses a breath or blood sample.
Safe ways to get home
All the insurers appreciate that there are times when you may indulge in a drink or two. To reduce the possibility of an accident, they now offer an additional benefit to ensure that you are driven home and don’t have to use your car.
You are able to contact their driver-assist call centres, after which a vehicle is dispatched with two drivers who drive the member home in their own vehicle.
All drivers belonging to this service are in possession of a public driver’s permit and carry a cellphone. The benefit is usually free if the destination is within a 50km radius, and a fee per kilometre will be charged thereafter.
Santam offers you a “home-drive assistance” benefit free of charge, six times a year.
If six trips a year is not sufficient, Santam’s homedrive assistance will facilitate the booking on a member-to-pay basis. For these trips, you will receive a discount on the full fare fee as follows: