The good news is your car insurance should still cover you if you are involved in an accident after curfew. But there's a catch...
Curfews. As long as lockdown is with us, we need to be aware of what those cut-off times are. Of course, life happens, and you might find yourself in a situation where you're on the road when you shouldn't be. What if, horror of horrors, you're in an accident? Does that mean your insurer will automatically reject your claim? Happily, even without a permit, you will most likely still be covered by your car insurance.
Exclusions refer to scenarios in which your car insurance claim is automatically rejected. A very good example is if you are tested at the scene of the accident and are found to be over the legal blood-alcohol limit. Or if you were to let your younger brother have a spin in your car even though he doesn't even have his learner's licence yet... and he crashes it.
The list of exclusions in car insurance documents can be lengthy, and it is always worth wading through the fine print (you might need a strong cup of coffee) and familiarising yourself with the specific exclusions. But representatives of car insurance companies have said that an incident during a national curfew is, in most cases, not automatically an exclusion.
Something as simple as having a broken taillight could be an exclusion. Most people don't always read up on what makes their car roadworthy or not. If you're in an accident and it's deemed you were not driving a roadworthy car because the taillight wasn't working, well, that could be an exclusion right there.
So let's say you're that one unlucky soul who has their car insurance claim rejected on the grounds that you were out and about at midnight without a valid reason and you feel your claim has been unfairly rejected. What are your options?
There are two ways to appeal the decision. Firstly, you may request that your insurer escalate the matter internally for review.
Secondly, you may approach the Ombudsman for Short-term Insurance.
In this case, Senior Assistant Ombudsman Peter Nkhuna says, 'we would investigate, establish material facts and, on the basis of the available evidence, adjudicate on the merits of the dispute.'
What factors might affect the ombudsman's decision? 'Facts, evidence, law and considerations of fairness and equity,' says Nkhuna.
The business model of an insurance company is to assess a pool of risk and a specific customer's risk, and, based on that, offer premiums that motorists can afford. Most insurers agree that driving after curfew does not materially affect the risk of an incident occurring and, therefore, cannot be used as the basis on which to reject a claim.
Additionally, large insurers are on record as saying they acknowledge that some customers may need to use their vehicles during curfew hours, especially in the case of emergencies.
Here's the catch, however. Most insurers agree that if a vehicle was used for legal purposes during curfew hours, even without the motorist holding an essential-worker permit, the claim arising from an accident should not be rejected. But if it can be proven that the motorist was engaged in illegal activity at the time, the insurer may have possible grounds to reject the claim.
It is important to remember that when the lockdown level states that alcohol sales are prohibited, it is illegal to transport any amount of alcohol in your car. While this has not been tested in court, it is technically possible for an insurer to reject a claim if the motorist was transporting alcohol at the time of the accident.
Are you one of those daredevil South Africans out there driving an uninsured vehicle? Use Hippo's comparison tool and get protected with car insurance that won't break your budget. We'll show you quotes from leading car insurers so you can quickly and easily find the one that's just for you.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.