Getting your first car? Insurance should be your first consideration.
As the year draws to a close, one thing that many South Africans are hopeful for is a bonus or thirteenth cheque to supplement their spending over the December holidays. With the added boost of income, this is also the period during which first-time vehicle buyers are more likely to consider purchasing a car.
For those with limited budgets, outgoing car models are generally considered a more affordable option. This is also the time when parents are handing down their cars to children who are starting university or college in January.
Apart from the freedom experienced with owning a car for the first time, there are certain responsibilities that come with it, such as insurance. While in South Africa it is not compulsory to have car insurance, there are many good reasons why you should take out this kind of cover.
“South Africans have a responsibility to themselves and other road users to have car insurance,” says Vera Nagtegaal, the executive head of Hippo.co.za. “The financial implications of an accident for you and for others involved can be enormous. Insurance could protect you from the financial loss and allow you to fulfil your obligations to the other party, should you be responsible for causing the accident.”
Nagtegaal adds that in the instance of parents gifting their children cars, many still keep these insured in the parents’ names.
“If this is the case, it is important that you inform your insurer who the primary driver of the vehicle will be,” says Nagtegaal. “This may come with an increase in premiums – younger drivers are usually more expensive to insure – but if you don’t do this, the insurance company may have grounds to reject a claim.”
For those taking out car insurance for the first time, there are a few different types available, explains Nagtegaal.
Comprehensive vehicle cover
This covers many different types of damage to your vehicle, including theft, hijacking, fire and accidental damage, as well as cover for the vehicle of a third party. Some comprehensive car insurances also offer towing, roadside assistance or car hire, which are additional expenses you may incur when you are in an accident.
Since it covers so many different eventualities, comprehensive vehicle cover is the most expensive form of car insurance of the three options provided in this article.
Third party, fire and theft cover
This excludes cover for accidental damage to your own vehicle but does cover theft, hijacking and fire damage, as well as any costs you may be held liable for in the case of accidental damage to a third party.
This type of cover is cheaper than comprehensive cover because accidental damage to your vehicle is not included.
Third party only
This does not cover any loss or damages to your vehicle, but is an important type of insurance in case you cause damages to another person’s vehicle. Without this type of insurance, you could be legally charged for the cost of repairs or replacement of the other car.
This type of insurance is the cheapest option of the three, but only covers third party claims.
Additional auto insurance types
A number of insurance providers now sell separate add-on insurance products that cover:
Nagtegaal says when deciding which type of insurance to choose, it shouldn’t only be based on what you can afford.
“When you are comparing the costs of your premium from different insurers, you should consider what you are getting, not just what you are paying. Consider the services you are offered and understand that lower premiums often come with greater financial risks and higher excess payments – which means that when you submit a claim, you may have to cover a certain amount out of your own pocket,” she says.
Nagtegaal adds that while insurance is generally seen as a grudge purchase, all motorists are relieved to have it when an accident occurs.