We often hear readers complain about their insurers and the non-payment of a claim. Before we criticise and take the matter to the Ombudsman we need to reflect on car insurance and the contents of the insurance policy. Car insurance is a contract between a client and his insurance company. The insurer agrees to provide cover on receipt of a monthly insurance premium for “normal” and “expected” risks to the insurable interest of the client.
The policy of insurance would also stipulate specific exclusions under which the insurer would not be obliged to make payment. These could include a certain event, person, peril, condition or situation that is not covered. This exclusion, or more than one exclusion, could be removed at the payment of an additional premium should the insurance company be in agreement to accept the additional risk. Typical exclusions from car insurance would be: overloading your car; using your car as a taxi service (earning income from it,) damage to your car from driving on gravel roads etc…
By overloading your vehicle you are creating an additional risk. The Arrive Alive road safety website described these risks:
- The vehicle will be less stable, difficult to steer and take longer to stop. Vehicles react differently when the maximum weights which they are designed to carry are exceeded.
- Overloaded vehicles can cause the tyres to overheat and wear rapidly which increases the chance of premature, dangerous and expensive failure or blow-outs.
- The driver’s control and operating space in the overloaded vehicle is diminished, escalating the chances for an accident.
- The overloaded vehicle cannot accelerate as normal – making it difficult to overtake.
- At night, the headlights of an overloaded vehicle will tilt up, blinding oncoming drivers to possible debris or obstructions on the roadway.
- Brakes have to work harder due to ‘the riding of brakes’ and because the vehicle is heavier due to overloading. Brakes overheat and lose their effectiveness to stop the car.
- With overloading, seat belts are often not used as the aim is to pack in as many persons as possible into the vehicle.
- The whole suspension system comes under stress and, over time, the weakest point can give way.
- By overloading your vehicle you will incur higher maintenance costs to the vehicle – tyres, brakes, shock absorbers and higher fuel consumption.
- Insurance cover on overloaded vehicles may be void as overloading is illegal.
Always remember that you would not only have to cope with poor handling and braking performance, you could also invalidate your insurance, and even incur a fine, if the car is overloaded.