Car insurance a must in SA
BRIAN BASSETT inks the sound advice aired on his ‘ Inqola’ show on Capital 104 FM radio
VETERAN motoring insurance claims adjuster Keith Sampson warns congestion on roads and in parking lots means there is no escaping damage to your car anymore, and advises what to do after a crash. He was interviewed by Brian Bassett on the community broadcaster in Msunduzi, Capital 104 FM.
Brian Bassett: The car insurance market is very competitive and advertising for insurance is everywhere. What criteria would you use when selecting an insurer?
Keith Sampson: Car insurance is one of the most important forms of insurance you can buy and you should not venture out onto the roads without it.
An accident could easily cost you R100 000 plus and wipe you out financially if you are not properly covered.
I would advise those looking for car insurance to go to a properly registered short- term insurance broker. The broker will select a company with experience in the field, as well as a good reputation and track record.
He will also assist you with making sense of the extensive documentation which you will receive once committed to a policy, as well as leaving you with a real understanding of what is covered and what is not.
BB: Car insurance advertising seems to focus on low premiums. Should car owners be concerned with that?
KS: Difficult as it is, you should not focus on premiums. Remember your intention in buying insurance is to obtain cover, which will protect you and your family in an accident.
Rather pay a little more on your broker’s advice, than buying a cheaper policy which may not cover all your needs.
It is sad that many people resent paying motor insurance premiums, because they believe that they will never have an accident, and that in a country which, after India and China, has one of the highest accident rates in the world.
BB: What is an excess?
KS: An excess is an amount of money you agree to pay your insurance company in respect of each and every claim you make. These days it varies between about R3 500 to R5 000.
Your excess is often taken into account when your premium is calculated and it indicates to your insurer that you will only claim for major damage and fix smaller scratches and bumps yourself.
These days you can insure your excess for a small monthly payment and so you can pay nothing, whatever the size of your claim.
BB: What is a no- claim bonus?
KS: It is a premium discount given on a motor policy by an insurance company as a reward for not claiming.
These days, with increasing numbers of cars on the road and damage occurring regularly in places like shopping centre parking lots, it is very difficult not to claim on your policy for several years.
Fortunately, as with your excess it is possible to insure your no- claim bonus for a small monthly amount and so protect yourself from losing it should you claim.
BB: If someone collides with me, what information should I collect on site and what else should I do before contacting my insurance broker?
KS: Collect as much information as possible. Photograph the crash scene with you cellphone camera. Also photograph the other driver and anyone else involved. If you can get a copy of his or her driving licence — do so, as well as his or her ID document. You also need his or her name, address, licence number and photo of his or her licence disk. Interview bystanders and take names and addresses of those who saw the accident.
It is worthwhile to carry a small plastic wallet in your cubbyhole containing recording instruments like pen and paper and a piece of chalk so that you can mark the accident scene on the road and photograph it once the vehicles have been removed. Then you need to report the accident to the nearest police station, if police officers are not on site already, and obtain a case number.
Once you have done these things, contact your broker, who will help you with your insurance claim or your insurer, if you do not have a broker.
BB: Tell us about write- offs.
KS: Your insurance company will value your car after an accident and if the cost of repair is higher than a certain percentage of the value of the car, they will write it off and offer you a proportion of the assessed value as a payout.
As happened with many vehicle owners after the hailstorm in 2015, they bought their cars back from their insurers and may also have received a small percentage of the value calculated as a payout. These vehicles largely had cosmetic and not mechanical damage.
BB: Can you insure for replacement value?
KS: Most insurers will not do it because of the complexity of calculating the exact value of a vehicle at any one time and the cost of such insurance.
BB: What is balance of third party?
KS: It is a much cheaper form of motor insurance which covers only other vehicles involved in an accident and not your own.
It is better than nothing, particularly if you have a chance meeting with a R2 million Mercedes, but if you can possibly afford comprehensive cover you should go for it.
BB: Is there anything else you would like to say to motorists?
KS: In Europe, England and some countries in the Middle and Far East driving without comprehensive insurance is an offence carrying a large fine.
In South Africa, only 30% of drivers are properly insured. We need to increase dramatically the number of drivers who are insured and consider appropriate legislation to ensure this.
It is not always the taxi driver to blame. In this crash last year in Ruimsig, Gauteng, the driver of the BMW ran away after crashing head- on into the taxi at high speed, leaving one person dead and critically injuring two others.