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Motor vehicle accidents can happen to anyone. We don’t often think that a tragic or major car accident can happen to us. We have all experienced a close call or two, but the thought of actually being in a car accident that could end badly is never something we concern ourselves with until it happens to us.
What to know:
It is always better to be prepared; knowing what to do in these situations that can make the unfortunate experience much easier.
- Make sure you know what your insurance policy covers;
- Make sure you know what your Insurance policy states and what each section means. For example; Some insurance companies will not pay out (partially or completely) your claim if you were not wearing a seatbelt as stated in the policy – whether you were the cause of the accident or not; and
- Make sure you know whether your policy includes roadside assistance as calling them may affect your claim.
Insurance policies can be one of the following options:
- Third Party Cover: Only provides cover for other vehicles in your accident. This is the cheapest option.
- Third party, fire and theft cover: This option does not cover the damages to your own vehicle. If it is written off during an accident, you may not be able to have it replaced by your insurer. Third parties might claim against your cover, even if they have their own insurance if you are the cause of the accident. With this option you are covered for fire that damages or destroys your vehicle as well as theft and hijacking.
- Comprehensive cover: Compulsory if your vehicle is still financed.
- Most expensive option but covers the following:
- Damage to own vehicle when in an accident (excluding excess);
- Full or partial of the damage to any other vehicle that was involved in your accident (Third Party Cover);
- Fire that damaged or destroyed your vehicle; and
- Theft or hijacking of your vehicle (some policies don’t cover this in full or with higher excess payments).
What to do:
- First, and most importantly stay calm and always stop your vehicle – it is criminal offence under the Road Traffic Act to drive away;
- Phone the South African Police Service to report the accident and assist. Phone your insurance companies’ roadside assistance if the accident required towing etc.;
- Do NOT move your vehicle unless it is required by law or for safety reasons;
- Comply to all the officer’s instructions;
- Write down the name of the officer as well as the accident report number. If one has not been assigned, then report the accident to the nearest Police station and get the number soonest;
- Get the details of all other vehicle’s involved – names, ID numbers, insurance information, addresses, vehicle descriptions (and registration numbers) date, time, weather & road conditions and any other relevant information;
- If an employee is driving on behalf of his employer, get his as well as his employers’ details;
- Take pictures of the scene, the vehicles, even surrounding areas, injuries and property damages;
- If anyone is injured, they should consult a doctor as soon as possible even if the injury seems mild – there could be more;
- Do not throw away any potential evidence, defective products, important documents or torn/blood stained clothes; and
- Do not leave the scene without the consent of the Police officers on the scene.
- Inform your insurance company of the accident even if you are going to pay for the damage yourself;
- Comply with all questions and regulations; and
- Give as much relevant information as possible to the insurers as soon as possible after the accident as it might help speed up your claim.
- Do NOT try to lie because you will be caught. There have been cases where insurance companies decided not to insure clients anymore because policies that are part of the contract are not followed therefore they can end the business relationship;
- Don’t try to make the damage to your own vehicle worse so the insurance can pay out more, it won’t work.
Remember to let your insurance company know when you have changed jobs, addresses and where your car is parked during daytime and nighttime hours.
Always drive safe and wear your seatbelt, you never know what might distract other drivers.
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