The implications of driving under the influence of alcohol, without a valid driver’s licence or reckless driving can be profound – all can lead to an outright rejection of your insurance claim if there is an accident and damage or loss of property. Far worse, it can lead to a criminal record, serious injury or a tragic loss of life.
The Ombud for Short-term Insurance has seen a 48% increase in complaints since 2017 for claims rejections where policyholders have not exercised due care to prevent a loss. Many of these relate to driving under the influence, reckless driving and excessive speeding.
“The reality is that insurers are there to pay valid claims due to sudden and unforeseen circumstances – any scenario where there is proven recklessness could see your claim rejected for failing to take due care to prevent loss. Insurers are able to back up such claim rejections with technology such as vehicle telematics reports which show the speed of the vehicle just before impact, accident reconstruction experts and eye-witness reports if they believe the cause of claim is related to illegal or reckless behaviour. Getting behind the wheel of a car when you are over the legal alcohol limit, under the influence of narcotics, talking on your phone while driving without a car kit or driving at excessive speeds – all of which are illegal behaviour – place insurers well within their rights to reject claims on this basis if proven,” explains Mandy Barrett of insurance brokerage and risk advisors, Aon South Africa.
“The financial implications are huge – not only will you face the costs of your own damage if the claim is rejected due to reckless driving, but you will also be responsible for the costs of any third-party damage. Even more concerning is the fact that if there is a personal liability claim by a third party involved in an accident with you, you may become legally liable to pay for financial loss, physical injury, disability or death of a third party. The personal legal liability cover typically embedded in your personal motor insurance policy will not respond if your claim is rejected, and you’ll be left to fund any legal defence costs and claims awards from your own pocket,” warns Barrett.
We all know that life gets crazy, that pressures get to us and that we get frustrated on the roads. Speeding, taking calls while driving and having to deal with an increasing number of drivers who have no regard for the rules of the road gets overwhelming. But always bear in mind the financial consequences if your insurance claim is repudiated on the grounds of your actions.
“If you have consumed alcohol, do the right thing and get a driving service to get you, as well as other road users, home safely. Don’t speed and respect the rule of the road and other road users – arriving alive and safe is way more important than trying to make up five minutes of lost time, or texting something which can wait until it is safe to do so,” concludes Barrett.