The annual Easter Holidays are a time when many South Africans embark on long distance journeys, whether for religious purposes or to enjoy the year’s first restive break. This makes it an appropriate time to ensure that the relevant insurance cover is in place for possible vehicle damage, theft, home break-ins or potential cyber fraud, says Old Mutual Insure.
Long distance road travel not only requires extra vigilance from divers but it is also essential that accident-mitigating steps are taken such as not drinking and driving and ensuring that vehicles are in a roadworthy condition. Motorists must ensure that their vehicle license is valid and that a trusted roadside assistance service is in place for emergency stoppages, particularly if traveling with small children.
“Due to the large number of people on the roads over the Easter Holidays there is a heightened probability of accidents occurring so it is vital that motorists have insurance policies in place and that they avoid behavior such as driving under the influence, which could render any claims null and void,” says John Manyike, Head of Financial Education. “Past experience also tells us that there is usually a spike in house burglaries during this time as many people are away from home.”
Figures from the National Transport Department show that 510 people were killed on South African roads during the 2018 Easter holiday, a 14% increase from the previous year’s figure of 449 deaths. In addition, no less than 1,698 drivers were arrested for driving vehicles with worn tyres and hundreds more for driving under the influence of alcohol.
To help South Africans avoid any potential insurance pitfalls Old Mutual Insure has compiled a useful checklist to help them avoid any insurance claim dramas over the holidays:
Drinking and Driving
Driving under the influence of alcohol or any prohibited intoxicating substance can result in an insurance claim being repudiated. “All short-term insurance policies and contracts are subject to South African legislation so you cannot break the law and expect to be covered,” says Manyike. “Driving under the influence of alcohol puts you at risk of having a criminal record and can also have potentially devastating financial implications if your car is severely damaged and your claim is rejected.”
Motorists should download the appropriate applications for their roadside assistance service and have it available on their smartphones along with any relevant emergency contact numbers. Policyholders should also consider enhanced insurance options that provide automatic payment for certain emergency servicing costs such as ambulances or hospital admission guarantees.
Vehicle claims can be rejected if the tyre tread depth does not meet the minimum requirement for what is considered roadworthy. A tread depth of 1.6mm (2/32”) is the most widely accepted minimum standard but motorists should check with their insurers to ensure that their tyres conform to the standard stipulated in their insurance policies. If unsure you should consult an expert at a tyre fitment centre or check the wear indicator that is reflected on certain tyres.
“The insurer’s decision is not based solely on the policy condition, but also on the fact that the collision may have been avoided and the damages lessened had the vehicle’s tyres been in good condition,” says Manyike. “Checking tyre pressure before a long journey is also important”.
Insurers require that all vehicles listed on a policy have valid licences. If an accident occurs more than 30 days after the expiry date reflected on the licence, the insurance company can repudiate any claims related to that vehicle. It would then rest on the driver to prove that he or she had attempted to renew the licence and that the fault lies with the licensing authorities.
Make Sure Alarm Systems Work
Homeowners should ask their security providers to test their alarm systems on a regular basis to ensure that they are in working order. Tests should be formally logged by the alarm company as the insurer may ask for proof that the system was working in the event of a burglary. “It’s also a good idea for homeowners to test their alarm system before going on a trip,” says Manyike.
Make Sure Locks Are Working
It is imperative that homeowners make sure all locks are in good working order and that keys are never given to service providers or strangers, especially before leaving for a holiday. Ideally, all locks should be immediately replaced when moving into a new home. Doors and windows must be kept locked when not in use and burglar bars and security gates should be installed for added protection.
Install motion sensor lights that switch on when movement is detected on your property in order to deter criminals and boost visibility. Cut down any vegetation that obscures the view of certain sections of your home or which provides cover for intruders.
Falling victim to cybercrime, especially while traveling internationally, is a growing trend as people often drop their guards while on holiday. Safeguarding access to laptops, tablets and smartphones should be a high priority for travellers. Unsecured public Wi-Fi systems, including those at airports, hotels and coffee shops, should be avoided as they can allow cyber criminals to access sensitive information. If a public Wi-Fi network must be used, one should limit it to the shortest possible time to avoid sensitive information being accessed. Using public networks to access bank accounts should be avoided at all costs and debit and credit cards should ideally be linked to the relevant financial institution’s SMS notification service so that transactions can be monitored.
Credit Card Fraud Cover
Since credit cards are probably the most common payment mechanism for most travellers, it is advisable that they take out cover for any fraud-related losses while using their credit cards overseas. Insurance companies are increasingly offering such insurance offerings to give their clients peace of mind while traveling.