The quick and easy answer would be – when does your policy document require you to provide such notification? It is important to remember that your insurance policy is the written agreement between you and your insurer. You pay a monthly insurance premium and the insurer agrees to provide compensation when a specific event occurs. The insurer will compensate for that damage after the accidental damage has occurred, and once you have complied with the complete and timely disclosures required in the policy!!
It is important to keep the policy documentation in mind in the event of an accident. Failure to follow the terms of the policy will amount to breach of contract and the insurer cannot then be held accountable for failure to provide compensation to the insured!
It is best to illustrate this with an actual example of a claim that was referred to the Ombud for Short Term Insurance:
Written notification of Car Insurance claim within 30 days
The Insured’s motorbike was damaged in a collision on Thursday, 20th June 2002. The following day, i.e. on Friday, 21st June, he gave telephonic details of the collision to his Broker which telefaxed to him on Monday 24th June, claim forms. The motorbike was taken on a trailer to Linex Yamaha during that week, and he was only able to collect the quotation from Linex Yamaha the following Tuesday, i.e. 2nd July 2002. On Friday, 12th July 2002, his 79 year old father fell and was placed in Universitas Hospital, Centurion. The Insured being a single parent and between his responsibilities with his father, son and work, only managed to get to Linden Police Station on Tuesday, 23rd July 2002, to get them to stamp and sign off the motor accident claim form. On Thursday, 25th July 2002, he faxed the claim form together with the quotation to the Insurance Broker. The Insurer rejected liability because the claim was not reported in writing within thirty days of the event. The Insured was five days late within giving written advices to the Insurer of the claim.
In view of the strict conditions of the Policy, requiring written notification of the claim within thirty days of the event, the Ombudsman could not make a ruling against the Insurer.
Source: Ombudsman Newsletter : 02/03
We would like to advise all policyholders to keep their policy documents in a safe place – follow the steps taken as stipulated in this document and do not be the cause of unnecessary delays! Contact your insurer and always remember – there is nothing quite like enquiring!!