The best way to ensure a positive experience when you have an insurance claim is to always be honest and upfront with your insurer.
“Intentionally supplying incorrect or incomplete information to your insurance company – no matter how big or small – constitutes fraud and is a criminal offence,” says Max Huggins, head of claims at MiWay. “While most people covered by insurance are responsible citizens and enjoy the benefits of being open and honest with their insurer, there are a few who break the law.”
The consequences for insurance fraud are serious. Culprits could face prosecution for fraud and may end up in jail; cancellation of the insurance policy; and, because insurers share information, battle to find insurance elsewhere if the policy is cancelled as a result of fraud. In addition, the claim won’t be paid out which could well lead to considerable financial distress.
Situations that may be regarded as fraud include:
- Intentionally inflating the value of household items when making a claim;
- Claiming for items one never owned in the first place; and
- Falsely reporting something stolen. For example, when a vehicle becomes too expensive to maintain and is handed over to a criminal syndicate. The vehicle is then made the subject of an insurance claim for “theft”.
“The route to avoiding disappointment at the claims stage is to be completely open and truthful throughout the relationship with your insurer, and to assume an attitude of utmost good faith,” says MiWay CEO René Otto. “It is unfortunate however that a minority is willing to take unlawful risks at the expense of others.”
In addition to being morally indefensible, insurance fraud costs South Africans billions of rands every year. Escalated criminality places additional pressure on the criminal justice system and contributes to a rising cost of living. Another result is that insurance companies are forced to institute higher premiums, which means that insurance fraud indirectly takes money from everyone’s pocket.
Why should you have to pay more for your insurance every month, because your neighbours claimed for something they never owned?
Through a relatively simple process, you can make sure that your insurer is ready to help when you need them most.
- Familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions of your policy and ask your insurer to explain anything that you don’t understand.
- Make a list of all your most valuable items – there are a number of online tools to help you with this and MiWay has forms on its website to assist you to create a complete inventory. There are also companies that specialise in providing valuations for every item you have.
- Ensure that you have disclosed all material information to your insurer and that you keep the information up to date.
- Keep receipts and photographs of expensive items as a way of documenting your ownership.
- Keep your records and contracts in a safe place and if stored electronically, make sure there is a back-up copy. This will empower you to prove ownership of certain items if you ever need to institute a claim with your insurer, thereby making sure the claim is processed quickly and efficiently.
- Consider using services offered by your insurer that help you reduce your own risk. For example, the WeDrive service from MiWay is a free home-drive service available to MiWay clients to help them get home safely after a night out.
You can help to reduce insurance fraud – and do so anonymously – by contacting the SA Insurance Crime Bureau (SAICB) hotline on 0860 002526 or email@example.com. This independent initiative is funded by SAICB member companies, including MiWay. Additional information is available on MiWay.co.za, in the website’s “useful links” page.
Find out how MiWay can help cover your belongings, by visiting miway.co.za for an online motor and household insurance quote.
MiWay is a direct, short-term insurance company, offering customers a range of short-term insurance products including motor, household and homeowners insurance as well as add-on products such as warranty cover and liability cover. MiWay’s major shareholder is Santam, a blue-chip JSE-listed company.