How third party vehicle insurance works
Full insurance is best, but at least get this basic form of cover
ONLY around one third of the vehicles currently on South African roads are insured, according to the AA. This means vehicle owners who only have third party insurance stand about a 65 percent chance of recovering costs caused by damages to their vehicle by someone else.
It’s important to realise that third party insurance does not cover any damage to the policyholder’s own vehicle, explains Marike Van Niekerk, Manager of Legal and Compliance at MUA Insurance.
“This type of insurance is specifically designed to be more affordable, and shields a vehicle owner against the costs when he or she is liable for the damages caused to another person’s property or vehicle.”
This is where the benefit of having comprehensive vehicle insurance cover comes into play, says van Niekerk. “With comprehensive vehicle cover, the individual can claim from their insurance company and when they are not to blame the insurance company will handle the recovery process against either the third party or the third party’s insurer. If the claim is successful and the policyholder is not at fault, the insurer will refund the policyholder the excess they paid under their insurance contract and reinstate their claims record.”
When it comes to determining which party was at fault, and to what degree, the Law of Collision is applied, says van Niekerk. “This law is used to determine settlement and whether or not both parties were negligent in causing the accident and therefore how each party will be compensated or held liable according to their specific degree of negligence. Surrounding circumstances and previous court case precedents are also taken into consideration. Needless to say, this is not a simple process.”
In the event of an accident, Van Niekerk advises that it is of utmost importance not to admit liability at any stage at the accident scene. “Do not claim fault for the accident regardless of the situation and do not sign any documentation regarding fault or promise to pay any damages. This is to avoid prejudicing the rights of yourself or your insurer. It must be noted that an insurer will only be liable to the extent that the insured is legally liable.”
Write down all the details surrounding the accident as this will be required when reporting the incident to the police, which must take place within 24 hours of the accident, and at claims stage.
These details include: date and time of accident; location of accident; condition of road; weather conditions; contact information of any witnesses; details of the driver of the third party vehicle (driver’s license number, address, mobile, business and home numbers); details of the third party vehicle (number plate number, make, model, colour, damages and condition description); insurer details; and contact details of any and all passengers.
“While comprehensive insurance cover is ideal, it is vital for motorists to have some form of vehicle insurance in place, even if it is at least third party insurance.
Third party insurance will ensure that if you are involved in an accident and you are found responsible, you do not have to suddenly find the funds to cover the costs of damages to the third party, which can range from vehicle repairs to replacing the vehicle entirely if it is written off,” she concludes.
Third party insurance ensures you are covered for damages to other vehicles if you’re found responsible.