Youlon Naidoo, executive head: claims and procurement at MiWay Insurance.
While it’s always comforting to know that your valuables are insured in the event of an accident or theft, it’s also important to remember to adhere to the terms of your insurance contract. So before setting off on your much-anticipated festive break, take time to tick all the boxes necessary to ensure that your cover isn’t compromised and won’t get in the way of your festive cheer in the event of an emergency.
Here are some good pointers to take note of to influence more positive energy to your claim, should you need to claim:
1. No Doubts About the Regular Driver
One of the first things to tick off your list is to make sure that the regular driver of your vehicle is reflected accurately on your insurance policy. This is important because insurance premiums are calculated according to the risk you potentially pose as an individual, and not just on the vehicle you drive. For example, people who have had their drivers’ licenses for less than a year are assessed differently to those who have been behind the wheel for 20 years.
While it might be tempting to list a more established driver with hopes to save on those monthly premiums, this approach will severely backfire on you when claiming after an accident. Should checks reveal that the regular driver of your car isn't the person listed on your policy, your claim is at risk of being rejected due to the prejudiced risk profile and could even impose higher premiums going forward.
2. Honesty is the Best (for your) Policy
When you take up insurance cover, your insurer will ask for information relevant to your risk profile, including particulars like your home address, where you park your car and how often you use your vehicle. By providing the right information and keeping it up to date should any changes occur, you allow your insurer to calculate the right premium based on your risk profile. Should you fail to truthfully disclose relevant information, this could be considered material misrepresentation and alter the terms and conditions of the policy contract.
Dishonesty and non-disclosure may be regarded as fraud and lead to your claim being rejected. In some cases, it may also result in your policy being cancelled, or even lead to prosecution. So, if any of your information has changed since taking out your insurance policy, make sure to update your insurer as soon as possible.
3. Tread Carefully with those Tyres
Tyres are to cars what shoes are to humans – a worn out pair can only take you so far before causing you problems. A tyre that has insufficient tread, has a cut, or is damaged in other ways decreases the tyre's ability to hold the road, thereby compromising the vehicle’s braking system and raising the risk of the tyre bursting while the vehicle is in motion.
As such, it's vital that you keep your tyres in top shape, ensuring that you check them regularly for nicks, tears, or punctures, and making sure that your tread meets the minimum roadworthy standard depth of 1mm. Being involved in an accident while your tyres are worn could put your insurance claim at risk, even if you did not cause the accident. Be kind to your tyres, and they’ll be kind to you.
4. Driver-of-the-Year Habits
Mistakes happen – to human is to err; but, while causing an accident doesn't necessarily put your subsequent claim at risk, doing so as a result of reckless driving is likely to make the process very difficult. Essentially, if your accident is a direct result of you breaking the rules of the road, your insurer isn't obliged to honour your claim.
Reckless speeding, gross negligence, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without a valid license, or driving an unlicensed vehicle puts you and others at risk, and could result in a claim being rejected in the event of an accident. So, stick to the rules of the road, and aim for that “Driver-of-the-Year” Award
5. No pay, no cover
Typically, an insurance policy covers its holder for the period between payment dates. Should you miss a payment, after the period of grace where applicable, you will not be covered during that period, meaning your insurer can choose not to honour a claim for an incident which occurred during that time, or opt to cancel your policy entirely (depending on your policy terms and conditions). Additionally, in the event of a policy being cancelled for non-payment, you may be regarded as a high-risk individual by future insurers. As such, before heading out for all that festive shopping, make sure your premium payments are up to date to avoid potential long-term complications.
Top tips for avoiding claims complications:
Keep it real, for real. Make sure the details on your insurance policy accurately reflect your reality. Even if it means paying a little extra each month, the long-term savings could be significant.
Play your part: Your insurance policy is an agreement between two parties, so it's important that you understand and honour your obligations if you want to have less hassles when claiming. This means keeping your car in a roadworthy condition, and not engaging in any type of behaviour that could be considered excessively risky or illegal.
Pay on time. Every time. Timeous payment is critical if you want to avoid having your claim rejected. If you're unable to make your monthly payment for any reason, contact your insurer to reach an agreement that doesn't put your policy at risk.
Know Your Rights
If you’ve had your policy cancelled or claim rejected and you feel that the decision on the part of the insurer was unfair, there are various avenues you can explore to dispute the outcome. Insurers have a vested interest in treating clients fairly, and your first port of call should be the insurer’s own dispute resolution team. Should the matter remain unresolved, approach the Ombud for Short-term Insurance, who will offer an objective and specialised assessment of your case and provide adequate resolution if merited.
MiWay is a licensed non-life insurer and Financial Services Provider (FSP 33970).