Anne Downham has been working in the short-term insurance industry for 43 years. In November 2010 she received her Honorary Life Membership certificate from the Insurance Institute of Gauteng. Anne has become a part of the furniture at Quicksure, since joining us in 1995. She has extensive knowledge of all aspects of short-term insurance and her advice is invaluable.
Latest Motor Vehicle Theft Scam.Please take note and be aware of the latest scam.
When buying a vehicle and you had already taken delivery, be very careful when you receive a phone call from the so called “dealership” making false promises. These include, but are not limited to attend to smash and grab or a full tank of fuel. These people are very creative and they may come up with any other reason, purely to convince you that there is a need for them to collect your vehicle.
If you believe them and hand your vehicle over, that will be the last time that you have seen your vehicle.
How they know that you have just bought a vehicle and where they obtain your details from remain a mystery. In the instances we have dealt with the people collecting the vehicle were dressed in the dealership’s uniform, leaving you the unsuspecting victim, with no reason not to hand the vehicle over to them.
Dealerships deny the involvement of their staff, but one cannot help but wonder.
Some Insurers may reject your claim in such circumstances, as most policies do not cover theft of a motor vehicle when the keys were handed over voluntarily, or theft under false pretences.
Load Shedding.Due to the load shedding that is taking place at the moment and for the foreseeable future, we urge you to review your cover. Insurance policies cover lightning damage, but not all provide cover for damage as a result of power surges, which is caused by load shedding.
Power surges can cause damages or destroy your household appliances and other electronic devices and you are encouraged to ensure that you have additional accidental damage cover in place.
Policyholders must also ensure that alarm systems are checked on a regular basis. Irregular power has a detrimental effect on the lifespan of the alarm system’s battery, which is the single most important component of the system.
Load shedding would lead to an increase in crime as criminals would take advantage of the situation and target homes where normal security measures would not be working. When you arrive home during load shedding your gate motor will not be in working order, forcing you to get out of your vehicle to open the gate. Please be alert and check your surroundings.
Do not draw large sums of money from auto banks.
Do not accept any assistance from strangers.
Be aware of your surroundings and people following you.
Never leave your property unattended.
Car- jacking is one of the key crime concerns:
Be aware of your environment and vigilant when driving.
Do not use cell phones while driving or waiting at a traffic light.
Park your vehicle in a safe place.
Keep all windows and doors locked and do not leave property lying around in the vehicle.
Ensure that your tracking device is in working order.
When locking your vehicle, check the doors to ensure they are locked, as remote jamming is on the increase.
Do not follow the same route to work and back home.
Be on the lookout for strangers and vehicles in your street when you approach home. If you notice anything strange, do not enter your driveway, but go to the nearest police station.
Remote Jamming.Remote jamming and the theft of vehicles by these means are on the increase.
According to SAIA they do not have stats in this regard and they also do not know the frequency of such claims as compared to normal theft and physical break-ins into vehicle. .
Thefts of this nature are easily avoidable if care is taken. People merely press the lock on the remote control and accept that the vehicle is locked. This is not always the case, as thieves are capable to activate their own remotes – operating on the same frequency, which interferes with the signal and this prevents the car from locking.
Apart from the theft of vehicles, entry is also gained by these means to steal items from motor vehicles. Most insurance policies provide cover for items stolen out of a vehicle, provided that entry was gained by forcible and violent means. It stands to reason that if entry was gained by remote jamming, there will be no evidence of forcible and violent entry and it would be difficult to prove that the loss did occur as a result thereof. The general consensus is that such claims would be considered provided that CCTV footage is submitted, but we also have to bear in mind that such facilities are not available all over.
To prevent such losses it is important to be aware of remote jamming and to take special care when locking your vehicles. Instead of pressing the remote control and walk away, check to see if the vehicle is in fact locked.
Proof of ownership.There appears to be a misconception that once a claim is lodged that the Insurer has no right to request reasonable proof of ownership for the lost / stolen items.
Arguments raised are that the policy wording does not specifically state that proof must be provided. In order to be indemnified under the policy the insured is obliged to prove his loss, this is a common law requirement and does not have to be stated specifically in the policy. Part of proving the loss is proving ownership of the property concerned.
When we refer to proof of ownership, we specifically need such proof in respect of, but not limited to jewellery, camera equipment, cell phones, laptops and computer equipment etcetera.
No Insurer will merely make payment on any expensive item without sufficient proof that the item existed in the first place and that the claimant was the legal owner of such an item.
A photograph, showing the claimant wearing the item may to an extend show that the item existed, but no value can be established from a photograph alone. We need a proper description, valuation certificate or purchase invoice.
We have dealt with a number of complaints lodged with the Ombudsman regarding the above and he ruled in our favour.
House burglars now target you earlier.House burglars now target you in the late afternoon or early evening when you arrive home and have not yet activated your alarm and sensors.
They are clever enough to know that alarms and sensors are only activated when you go to sleep and now attack when you least expect it.
When you get home you are busy with activities such as cooking, feeding pets, watching television and you are not as vigilant.
There is also a tendency to follow you home from the shops and attack when you arrive home.
According to well known security companies, the best protection is to have your sensors connected to armed response and to activate it when you get home. The borders of your property will be protected whilst you can still move around freely in your home. They also suggest that your gate is fitted with a sensor, as you will notice immediately if the gate is tampered with.
Be aware of your surroundings, vehicles in your area and even strangers on foot. If possible do not follow the same routine, alternate the route home and make sure it is safe before entering your property.
FraudIt is common knowledge that fraud is on the increase, as it has cost the Insurance Industry millions of rands during 2013 and you, the honest client, unfortunately have to bear the brunt by being faced with premium increases. People think it is easy to submit fraudulent claims, but they must be aware that we do carry out proper and sometimes lengthy investigations. In a recent incident, a person made derogatory remarks about the time it took to investigate a motor accident claim. He went as far as to call for a meeting with our Managing Director and continued with his remarks and threats. Whether he thought that we would merely bow down and pay his claim, we do not know, but it was confirmed in the end that he in fact lodged a fraudulent claim. Not only did he admit that he bribed a policeman, but also that he was well over the legal limit when he smashed his car. Through his conduct, he will not ever be able to have the privilege of insuring his property ever again. We intend laying fraud charges against him, which means he will also have a criminal record. Fraud is unfortunately not restricted to motor losses. We find that claims under the other sections of the policy, especially householders’ contents are overstated. People are claiming for bigger and better than the items they had and go to the lengths to claim for items they never possessed. The same applies to the All Risks section, as we have found that the items claimed for are deliberately damaged. As fraud is on the increase we have no alternative but to protect the honest client’s interest. Damaged items will be inspected to establish the cause and proof of ownership must be provided in respect of stolen items. We view fraudulent claims in a very serious light and will most certainly take the necessary action to bring anyone guilty of this conduct to book.
It is easy to forget the important things to do after a motor accident, as the trauma can have an effect on your physical and mental ability.
What to do in the event of an accident.
• If at all possible and safe to do so, move the vehicle off the road to prevent further accidents and injuries. If the accident took place on a busy road, get the passengers out of the vehicle and out of danger.
• If there are any injuries, phone the ambulance service or the traffic department.
• You have to take down full details of the other party involved in the accident. Your insurance company will need the name, address, contact number, email address, the make and colour of the other vehicle, as well as the registration number. Check whether the registration number corresponds with the licence disc.
• Other helpful information would be the identity number of the other driver and driver’s license details.
• If possible, take photographs of the damaged vehicles. This will assist your insurance company to establish the exact damages and not end up paying for old damages that existed prior to the accident.
• All accidents, no matter how slight the damage must be reported to the police. Your insurance company will need an accident report.
• Even if you may be angry, stay calm.
• Do not leave the scene of the accident until all personal contact and vehicle details are obtained.
• When making your statement to the police, give them an honest reflection of what had happened, as a false statement may jeopardise you.
• Remember to take down contact details of any witnesses, as this will be needed if legal action is taken.
• Submit your claim with all the details and documents to your insurer without delay and ensure to tell them about any injuries that were sustained.
Most importantly: If your vehicle needs to be towed, phone Quicksure Assist on 0861 777 708 and they will arrange with the AA to tow your vehicle to an approved repairer. Do not allow any unauthorized tow truck driver to move your vehicle. They normally appear to be very helpful in offering to phone on your behalf. Do not fall for that, as they pretend to make a phone call to your service provider, but in the meantime it is a scam. Even if they try and convince you that they are authorized to move your vehicle do not believe them. If you let them tow your vehicle they will take it to a non-approved repairer and will not release it until you pay a ridiculous amount in release fees. Please bear in mind that your insurance company is not liable for these tow and release charges.
Safety tips to reduce risk of crime.
• Always make sure that doors are properly closed and locked;
• When you leave your home make sure that all the windows are closed and that the doors are locked;
• If you leave your home for a long period, inform your neighbours or family to report any suspicious people and vehicles;
• Tools not in use, such as spades, picks, axes, ladders, etcetera, must be locked away, as these may be used in an attack, or to gain entry into your house;
• Vary your daily routine;
• Draw your curtains so you are not visible from the outside;
• If you return home after work or a visit and you suspect anything, do not enter your home;
• Report anything suspicious to your nearest police station;
• Avoid planting shrubs and bushes around gates, as these make good hiding places;
• Keep copies of your employees identity documents and do not employ casual workers without a reference;
• Safe keys must be kept on the person;
• Never leave keys in pot plants or under door mats;
• When keys are accidentally lost, replace the locks;
• Always park vehicles, including motorcycles in a locked garage. If you do not have this facility, park it out of sight;
• Never leave vehicles on the pavement or driveway;
• Never leave valuables such as laptops, cell phones, GPS devices and other personal items in the vehicle.
What you need to know before entering into a contract.When entering into a contract, insurance or otherwise, you have to make sure that you understand what it entails as well as the terms and conditions.
If you enter into a short-term insurance contract to insure your motor vehicle on a comprehensive basis, you must understand the term comprehensive. Even if you have comprehensive cover, it is still subject to terms and conditions, which means that certain events, such as wear and tear, lack of maintenance, un-roadworthiness etcetera will not be covered.
It is your right to have insight into the contract and you must request your broker to provide you with a copy before entering into the contract. It is further your broker’s duty to ensure that you understand and if not to explain to you.
Disclosure on both sides is the most important aspect of the contract. You must disclose any material information that may influence the Insurer’s decision in assessing the risk. If you had previous insurance and you had claims, or if an Insurer cancelled a previous policy, you must disclose this information. If you are placed under administration or if you are in financial difficulty, it must be disclosed.
Why do premiums increase if the value of vehicles decrease?In the past, repairers used to panel beat damaged parts on vehicles, but these days, because of various factors, repairers replace damaged parts rather than repair. If a vehicle is still under warranty, Insurer’s are obliged to authorize the replacement of new parts only.
Motor vehicle values depreciate rapidly, but on the other hand the repair costs escalate at an alarming rate.
To maintain a balance between affordable insurance premiums and not being able to offer motor insurance at all, Insurers have no alternative, but to reduce Claim Free Groups when an accident claim occurs, resulting in increased premiums.
Other major factors contributing to increased premiums are the economic climate, adverse weather conditions, crime and fraud.
Honesty is still the best policy.A fraudulent insurance claim for R4 500 for a water-damaged cell phone has cost a client dearly.
Not only has a High Court judge now repudiated his entire claim of R320 000 for losses he allegedly incurred in an armed robbery at his home more than six years ago, but he will also have to pay the substantial legal costs of his Insurers on a “punitive” scale.
A recent judgment reveals how he dug himself deep in quicksand as he battled to explain his claim for the cell phone which, on his version, had been water-damaged but had been repaired before it was stolen.
His credibility, the judge said, was “seriously undermined” from the beginning by his evidence of how the phone was damaged when he went into the water during a sardine run, with the phone in his back pocket and “got out happily with the sardines”, pulling out his phone to call his uncle to “come and join the fun”.
It was February, he claimed. Not possible, the judge said. The sardine run is in winter. He then alleged the fish were mackerel. The judge said while she was no fisherman, she had never heard of a mackerel run. This too turned into a “red herring” because according to the South African Sustainable Seafood Initiative, local mackerel are line fish and his explanation that he was “gathering armfuls” was a “ludicrous lie”, she said.
He said the damaged phone lay around in his boot for about a year before he gave it to his cousin who gave it to a friend to repair. The phone was returned without his knowledge and put in a cupboard by his daughter who, on the day of the armed robbery, put it on charge because her phone had been taken away from her by her parents. He said he claimed for the phone because he believed the phone had been fixed. The judge pointed out, he could not name the repairer nor explain why he had never been presented with a bill and had not paid for the repairs.
While the judge gave him the benefit of the doubt that the robbery had occurred, she deemed the claim for the phone to be fraudulent, resulting in his entire claim, including for some jewellery, failing.
On the issue of costs, she cited the proliferation of insurance fraud which resulted in increased premiums for all. “The courts show displeasure when an insurer unfairly repudiates a claim ... there is no reason why the courts should not penalise an insured whose claim is clearly fraudulent. He persisted with his fraudulent claim even after obtaining affidavits confirming that the phone was valueless, he drew his daughter and the repairer into his web of lies and I am satisfied this is an appropriate case for punitive order for costs”, the judge said.
May an Insurer use "Pirate" and second hand parts to repair a vehicle.There is a perception on the part of the public that an Insurer is obliged to use new original factory supplied parts in all instances.
The cost of repairing damaged motor vehicles has risen significantly over time and is a major factor in the high cost of motor vehicle insurance. To keep premiums at reasonable levels and to avoid premium increases, it is imperative that everything possible be done to keep repair costs down, but at the same time without compromising safety and quality standards.
It must be remembered that in the modern world very few motor manufacturers actually manufacture the components incorporated into their motor vehicles and a high percentage of these components are sourced from specialist component manufacturers. A distinction must be drawn between components made by reputable manufacturers, which conform to recognised safety and or quality standards and those which may be classified as fake or unauthorised copies made by unspecified manufacturers.
Original factory supplied components must be fitted whenever a critical component of the motor vehicle may be damaged or when the vehicle is under warranty and has a maintenance plan.
Depending on the circumstances of each case, the age and condition of the vehicle, there is no reason why components made by outside manufacturers should not be used where this can result in cost savings, provided that safety or reliability are not compromised. There is no hard and fast rule and each case must be assessed on its own merit.
Weather Warning.Summer is well on its way and it is inevitable that thunder storms, heavy rains, gusty winds, hail and lighting strikes will occur.
Have you taken proper precaution to ensure that the roof of you domestic and business buildings are ready for the onslaught of the above?
It is a good time to attend to the following:-
• General maintenance and safety checks to ensure that the roof is not leaking, rusting and that roof sheets and tiles are well secured.
• Determine whether you are adequately insured. Buildings are usually insured for the purchase price, which means that we will not be in a position to place you back in the same position as you were prior to a loss. Building costs are much higher than the market value of your property and it is therefore important to insure for the replacement/reinstatement value. In other words, should disaster strike and the whole of the property is destroyed, how much will it cost to rebuild? Your Sum Insured should be based on this amount.
• It is also a good time to reassess your Sums Insured on items such as household goods and other items to ensure that you are adequately insured.
Recovery Process.If another party was the cause of the accident we will hand the documents over to our attorney to start the proceedings to recover your excess and our outlay. This happens, as soon as the claim is reported to us. It is therefore important that you provide full details of the other party. We need the name of the driver, his/her contact details, make of vehicle, registration number and name of the insurance company, if they are insured, together with independent witness statements. The guilty party will be contacted and we will give reasons as to why we consider them to be liable for our costs, including your excess.
To enable us to recover we have to proof our loss by way of providing quantum documents to the other party and or their Insurer. This can only be done once we have received the final repair invoice. This is not the reason for the delay, as most vehicles are repaired within a short period.
Delays are caused when we are not provided with full Third Party details. In most instances we are only provided with a registration number, which means that we have to trace the proper whereabouts of the other party. Sometimes we are given incorrect registration numbers, which then obviously lead us to a dead end, as it is impossible to trace the other party. Other delays are as a result of the other party and or his/her Insurer not responding to our demands. In most instances there are disputes in that the other party and or Insurer will deny liability. For this specific reason it is important to obtain eye witness statements. Remember, it is your word against that of the other party and unless we are in a position to provide independent eye witness statements, we are unable to recover the costs.
In the event of no response and if it is economically viable, we will issue Summons. Depending on the amount involved we may decide to abandon the recovery, but you will still be able to sue the other party in the Small Claims Court, for the recovery of your excess and we will offer you assistance in this regard.
Please bear in mind that this is a service we offer and there is no guarantee that we will be in a position to recover your excess, or our outlay for that matter.
Protect your own safety and property.• Do not leave cell phones, laptops, handbags, wallets or any other items in your vehicle.
• If you have a lockup garage or locked gates, park your vehicles inside the garage or behind the locked gates and do not leave it on the driveway.
• When you buy new items and equipment, like for instance a plasma television set, discard the boxes and do not leave it on the pavement, as this will alert criminals.
• Be alert at all times when leaving home or arriving back at home, as criminals may be following you or waiting for you.
• Try and avoid travelling the same route, as your movements may be watched by criminals.
• If you are followed, please do not enter your driveway, but drive to the nearest police station.
Why should you not accept your excess from a Third Party?If you have a motor accident and there is another party involved, please refrain from negotiating with the other party. It is a General Condition of your policy that you must not make may admission, statement, offer, promise or payment without our written consent. You must further not negotiate with the other party, if they were the cause of the accident, regarding the payment of your excess.
If you accept your excess from the other party, you prejudice our rights of recourse against the other party and or his/her Insurer and we will hold you liable for the balance of our outlay on the claim. Your excess may be R5 000 against a claim of say, R50 000. If you accept your excess from the other party, we are unable to recover our outlay.
What is "Average"?Average in terms of your short-term insurance policy is applied when your sum insured on household contents is less than the replacement value of your property.
Your policy is based on "new" for "old" and therefore the sum insured must be equivalent to the replacement value of the insured property at the time of loss or damage. If not, your Insurer will only be liable for that portion of the loss or damage that the sum insured bears to the replacement value of the insured property.
If you bought an item a couple of years ago at say an amount of R5 000 and it gets lost or damaged, the current replacement cost for an identical or similar item, at today's cost will exceed the original cost.
Example: Your sum insured is R500 000, but the value at risk to replace all your property would cost R1 000 000. You suffer a loss in the amount of R100 000. Your Insurer would apply average to the loss by dividing R1 000 000 into the sum insured, multiplied by the loss. In this instance your Insurer will pay you only R50 000.
To ensurethat you are fully compensated for a loss or damage, your sum insured must be adequate.
What is "All Risks Cover"?• All Risks provide cover for personal property, accidentally lost or damaged by any cause not excluded, whilst outside your home. Personal property, for example includes; clothing, handbags, watches, jewellery, binoculars and any other item of a personal nature that is designed to be carried or worn by a person.
• If you select this section you will have cover up to 10% of the All Risks Unspecified sum insured you have opted for or R1 000 per item, whichever is the greater.
• If you have items that would exceed the 10% or R1 000 limit, it is best to have them specifically insured under the All Risks Specified section of the policy. On such items you must provide us with a proper description and substantiate it by a valuation certificate, or proof of purchase.
• If you do not have All Risks cover and you do suffer a loss whilst you are away from home, we will not be able to deal with the claim.