While accidents are one of life’s unfortunate inevitabilities, there’s no way to predict when a curveball will be thrown in your path. And while it’s one thing to be caught off guard when on your home turf, it’s another matter entirely to deal with the consequences of a collision that takes place a little further afield.
With roads set to be busier than ever in December and holidaymakers preparing to head off on much-needed breaks, the chances of becoming involved in an accident – particularly one that takes place while you’re away on holiday – increases significantly. It’s important to be prepared in the event of such an incident.
So before you pack your bags and set off into the summer sunshine, here are a few key pointers to consider:
Keep your vital information close to hand
Information is key in the event of an accident, which is why it’s critically important that you carry your driving licence and relevant identification on you at all times. When away from home, it’s also wise to keep proof of residence on hand – both of your temporary and permanent abode – so as to simplify and speed up the claims process. You’ll also want to check that both your driver’s and vehicle’s licences are up to date, valid and that your car is sufficiently roadworthy ahead of a lengthy highway stint.
Read the fine print
For those heading further afield, car hire is likely to factor into holiday plans. And while it’s an ultra-convenient option, things can become very complicated in the event of an accident or theft. As such, it’s vital that you understand the terms of your rental agreement and car hire cover before setting up camp behind the wheel.
What’s important to remember is that car hire companies cannot offer insurance, so there’s no real way to avoid any form of liability in the event of damage or loss. What they do offer are responsibility waivers, which limit your liability to a set amount. Much like the excess on an insurance policy, you’ll be expected to pay anywhere between R3,000 and R14,000 to the car hire company should things go awry, depending on the waiver you choose. If you decline the waiver, you’ll be completely responsible for all damages, so make sure you know what you are or aren’t signing.
Understand the exceptions
Remember that opting for a waiver doesn’t exemplify you from responsibility in all circumstances. Many car hire companies will void these waivers if the car is damaged as a result of being driven on unsuitable roads or in areas of unrest. Equally, waivers are unlikely to cover you in the event of reckless or drunken driving, or if you’re involved in an accident in which no third party is involved.
Know what to do
If you’re involved in an accident, it’s important to document the scene as much as possible, so take photos if you can in order to assist your claim. It’s also vital that you alert the authorities and retrieve all the relevant details of the other party involved, as well as all witnesses.
You’ll also need to inform your own insurance company that you’ve been involved in an accident, even if you’re not claiming against your own policy. It’s vital to note that, even though you may not have caused the accident, you are still responsible for the amount not covered by the waiver. And while the insurer will attempt to recover this from a third party if they’re to blame, this isn’t always possible, particularly if they’re not insured.
Driving your own car?
If you’re out of town in your own car, it’s equally important to understand the required course of action so as to ensure your claims are honoured. Documentation is always imperative, so make sure you acquire as much of it as possible and ensure you contact both the authorities and your insurer rather than leaving it until you return home.
Even if you’re away and would rather think about anything other than admin, it’s important that you submit your claim immediately, as the quicker you do so, the less likely you are to forget or overlook critical facts. Luckily, it’s now easy to submit your claims online, so you can avoid the tedious phone calls and endless reams of paperwork and hurry back to enjoying your holiday.
Ultimately, when it comes to holiday accidents, knowledge is power. So make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities and you should be able to mitigate the financial impact of any unforeseen disasters.
MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)