The next most important thing to ensuring that your car is roadworthy and ready to tackle the crowded holiday roads this festive season, is making sure that it is insured.
So says Des Fenner, General Manager of Datsun South Africa, who emphasises that motorists should be equally aware of some of the reasons why insurance companies repudiate car insurance claims. “When taking out car insurance make sure you clearly understand what you are getting. This means taking the time to read a policy thoroughly and then asking questions about excess payments and possible exclusions to the policy. When you are away on holiday is not the ideal time to find out that your insurance doesn’t cover what you thought it did.”
The top five items to check before you sign a car insurance policy include:
- Making sure what the company offers if you are involved in an accident far from home.
- Finding out whether your insurance offers a period of car hire if your car needs to go in for repairs.
- Exactly what you aren’t covered for. For example, if your policy doesn’t include water damage, and you are caught in a flood that damages your car engine, you may not be covered.
- Getting clarity on thefts from your vehicle. For example, many insurers in South Africa will not pay for thefts involving remote jamming, because it is difficult to prove that it occurred.
- Whether the company will pay out if your car is damaged by a road hazard like a pothole. You could find that rims and tyres are excluded under your policy.
“Always be honest when applying for car insurance. Insurance companies assess their risk based on your personal history. They will want to know about your claims history, whether you have ever been refused insurance cover and just how good your credit rating is. If you don’t make accurate disclosures, don’t be surprised if a claim is refused,” says Fenner.
When you are going on holiday, there are other things to add to the list. Datsun’s top five tips for happy insured holiday motoring are:
- Making sure that if a car is left at home that it is parked in accordance with the circumstances that are listed on the policy. If you have told the company that your car stays in a locked garage when it is not being used and this is not true, if the car is stolen or damaged, your claim could be repudiated.
- Ensuring that your car is in good condition before leaving on holiday. If you are involved in an accident and the cause is worn tyres or defective wiper blades on your car, you could be left holding the repair bill. Getting your car serviced before a holiday is therefore the right thing to do.
- Thinking about who will be driving your car during the holiday. If you are driving long distances and swapping drivers, make sure their details are listed on your policy so that they are covered for driving your vehicle. Don’t assume that because another driver may have comprehensive insurance on his or her car that this cover transfers to your vehicle. Specifying alternate drivers is particularly important if the drivers are youngsters who can be expected to pay larger excesses. Also make sure that all drivers have valid licenses.
- Watching your road manners. Many policies carry clauses which repudiate payment if ‘failure to take care’ can be proved on the driver’s part. Breaking traffic regulations, overtaking on solid white lines and exceeding the speed limit and then being involved in an accident are not favourably regarded by insurance companies.
- Avoid driving while under the influence. Drinking and driving don’t go well together and insurance companies generally won’t pay for damage to your car, and others you may damage, if you drive drunk. Either have a designated driver, or call for a taxi.
“Besides making sure that your insurance affairs are up to date, one of the best ‘insurances’ any South African motorist can have, is being careful and vigilant on roads full of holiday traffic.” Common courtesy, and obeying speed limits and traffic regulations doesn’t cost anything,” says Fenner.