While you take out car insurance with the best intentions, there are things you might be doing that could jeopardise your cover, and unnecessarily increase your premiums.
“When it comes to car insurance, people might be tempted to tell ‘white lies’ to get lower premiums,” points out Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management solutions and car insurance options. “However, lying on your insurance policy or claim could result in denial of coverage. If you leave out information or lie about something, you could be costing yourself even more in the long run.”
To help ensure your claims are paid out with minimal hassles, be honest about details such as where you park your car (is it parked in a locked garage over night, for example), who is driving your car, whether or not you use your car for work, etc. “When you take out new insurance, the insurance company will ask you a long list of questions that cover these details. These questions are important because they help the insurance company determine your risk levels.”
Smit says another common mistake people make is opting for the cheapest insurance cover. “Do ample research before deciding on cover, investigate various plans and do a cost analysis, weighing the cost and benefits of each policy. Insurance aggregators make this process easier for you because they have a team of agents who not only source different quotes from some of South Africa’s most reputable insurers, but they also help you analyse each quote to decide on which option is best for your budget and your needs.
“It’s important to know what you’re covered for exactly, and what your excess will be if you have an accident,” he says.
The best type of cover is comprehensive, which protects you against damages to your car as a result of accident damage, theft or hijacking, bumper bashings, vandalism, fire, natural disasters, falling objects and damage done by animals.
An expensive insurance mistake many people make is not taking the necessary steps to decrease their premiums. It’s possible to decrease premiums by installing an anti-theft device or opting to pay a higher excess, which will result in lower premiums. “However, ensure you can afford the excess if and when you claim,” cautions Smit.
You could also enjoy lower premiums if you keep your insurer updated on changes in your life. For example, you could pay less if you start working at a new employer and park in a safer spot. “Conversely, if you don’t let your insurance broker or company know if anything changes, such as a new job or a new house, you could repudiate future claims. Also disclose if you’ve made any modifications to your car as the value of your car might have changed in the process,” Smit advises.
Finally, failing to report an accident to the police could end up being an expensive insurance mistake. If you don’t report an accident with another vehicle to the police, you won’t get a case number, and therefore you won’t be able to get your claim processed.
“Try get a case number as soon as possible after the incident to not only get the claim process started, but because earlier on, your memory of the accident will be fresher, and you’ll likely give more accurate information,” concludes Smit.