The Do’s and don’ts of car insurance claims

4 Apr 2017

Bertus Visser, Chief Executive Officer, PSG insure

Anyone who has endured a car insurance claim knows it can be an unpleasant process, but handling it correctly can make it a less stressful experience.

Here’s what you should do

Step 1: Report the accident and get third party details

You should report any accident on a public road to the police within 24 hours (this is required by law). If the driver cannot do this because they are injured, another person can report the incident. However, the driver should make a declaration as soon as possible thereafter.

An accident that occurred on your own private property or incidents relating to an act of God need not be reported to the police. However, all claims involving a third party must be reported to the police.

Before leaving the scene of the accident, exchange details with the other driver, including vehicle registration and ID numbers, and take photographs of the damage.

Step 2: Contact your broker or insurance provider

They will tell you what to do next in terms of the claims process and which documents you will need to submit. The documents will include a duly completed claim form, a copy of the driver’s licence and a quotation for repairs to the vehicle. It is important to provide a complete description of the accident, including an accurate account of the date and time, and to provide a sketch of the incident. Third party contact and vehicle details are crucial for possible recoveries or third party approaches.

Further documents may be required if the vehicle is written off, like a settlement letter from the relevant financial institution, vehicle registration certificate, and keys.

Step 3: Get your claim in on time

Make sure that your claim is submitted timeously to avoid any settlement issues.

All claims must be reported as soon as possible and complete details must be provided to the insurer within 30 days of the incident. You might be held liable for any costs resulting from an increase in repair costs between the date of the incident and the submission of the claim if the claim was not submitted within this timeline.

After 12 months, claims on personal policies will no longer be honoured, while you have 24 months from the date of the incident to finalise claims on commercial policies.

Step 4: Check your excess

Always confirm your excess with the insurer before your vehicle is booked in for repairs.

Step 5: Remove valuables and complete a checklist

Remove all valuable property from the vehicle and make sure that a checklist is completed by the repairer when the vehicle is booked in.

Here’s what you shouldn’t do

Step 1: Don’t drive your vehicle if it is not safe to do so

Do not drive your vehicle if you notice water or oil leaking from your vehicle or when the engine warning light lights up on your dashboard. This is an indication that the vehicle is not drivable and you should wait for an authorised tow truck. If you drive the vehicle in a non-drivable state, you might cause more mechanical damage, which may be excluded from the claim.

Step 2: Don’t admit liability

Do not admit liability even if you know you are wrong. Never negotiate, offer, promise or pay in respect of any event that may lead to a claim. Any approach from a third party must be forwarded to your insurer.

Step 3: Don’t embellish

Never provide an insurer with false information or inflate your claim. You will lose all rights to claim under your policy if a claim is fraudulent or if a claim occurs due to a wilful, deliberate or intentional act, or where the quantum is deliberately exaggerated. The insurer may also decide to cancel or void the policy based on a moral risk where a fraudulent activity was identified.

Step 4: Don’t authorise repairs without the insurer’s okay

Never prejudice the insurer by proceeding with repairs without the insurer’s approval. This might result in the rejection of the claim. The insurer must have the opportunity to investigate the incident and assess the damage before repairs can be authorised.

Step 5: Don’t accept the vehicle without a clearance certificate

Never accept the repaired vehicle without signing a clearance certificate. This confirms that the repairs to your vehicle were done to your satisfaction. The insurer will only settle the cost for the work done once they have received this confirmation.

While there may be other intricacies that come up in the claims process, by following the golden rules above, your claim should go through effectively.

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