Some policy holders only seek to understand how the claims process works when dealing with a loss, which often exposes them to mistakes that may result in a lower than expected pay-out. It is all in the fine print and the correct claims process.
The onus is on you to prove your loss and providing proof of ownership for items is essential. Provide your broker/insurer with as much information as possible relating to the incident. Your insurance broker are equipped to help you streamline the claims process and will take unnecessary admin off your hands. They will also know if you are eligible to claim in the first place. Read more on why you should have a broker. You need to start the claims process as soon as possible as there are time limits on the period between the time from which the damage occurred to the time you lodge your claim. So, do not
If your claim has to do with crime or possible crime (vandalism, theft, car accidents, etc.) make sure you report it to the police first, and again – without delay!
Document Your Evidence
It is important that you document every detail of the incident before you start the claims process. Times, dates and locations, the names and contact numbers of all involved parties, reference numbers for police reports and any relevant documentation. Make sure you have a detailed, but factual, coherent and non-exaggerated story to offer. In the case of car accidents: take photos of the accident, also showing the location. Write down the contact numbers of eyewitnesses or drivers. Make sure you jot down license plate numbers, car descriptions, Registration numbers, etc. If goods have been damaged, do not discard them if at all possible. If not, take clear photos.
Know the fine print. If it turns out that your vehicle is not in a roadworthy condition, your claim will be rejected. The National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 contains a list of items that must be maintained in a specified manner in order to meet the minimum standards of road worthiness:
- Very briefly, for a vehicle to be considered roadworthy the engine and VIN numbers must match those on the registration document and there must be no sign of tampering.
- There must be no damage or rust present on the body or chassis, while doors must be easy to open and firmly attached at the hinges.
- The speedometer, odometer, all seat belts and all lights and indicators must be in working order.
- The windscreen must be free of damage, windows designed to do so must be able to open and close and windscreen wipers must be operational.
- Wheels and tyres must be the correct size and tyres should have a tread depth of at least 1,6 mm and brakes should be in good working condition, with no leaks from the hydraulic system.
- The same goes for shock absorbers.
- Wheels should be properly aligned and the steering system fully operational.
- The engine compartment – including wiring – must show no signs of damage or leaks.
- The battery must be properly secured, and the transmission must be in good working order. Finally, there must be no excessive smoke or noise from the exhaust.
According to the Ombudsman for Short-term Insurance, neglected tyres and braking systems are most often to blame for claims being rejected.Vehicle owners should also be aware that if the condition of the vehicle was material to the loss, the insurer is entitled to not only repudiate the insured’s claim for damage or loss, but also the claim of any third party.
If you are insuring valuable goods, it is help to have clear photos of and receipts for them before any claims are necessary in order to have evidence of the value of the original item in case of theft or damage.
Property Damage don’t DIY
If damage occurred to your property, do not get it fixed before speaking to your broker and knowing exactly what your insurance policy states in this regard.
Insurance is a principle of good faith
Insurance is a principle of good faith, whereby the insurer agrees to insure your risk on receipt of agreed premiums. You have the responsibility to give true and correct information about yourself. You may experience problems with your claims process if it is found that some of the information is untrue. How you handle your claim will influence the success of your claims process.
Remember to notify your broker/insurer of the loss within 30 days. Certain claims require that you report the incident to the police, where after the case number, together with the relevant SAPS details need to be given to the insurer. Record the claim history very accurately. Keep letters (or copies thereof) and e-mails from or to your insurer. Write down the date and time of calls between you and the insurer or broker as well as the name and title of the person you spoke to and the issues you discussed. These notes will help to make the process more smoothly.
Insurance is there to make your life better – not to overwhelm you when you are already experiencing problems. You need a broker that is professional and with the best knowledge in the insurance industry when it comes to the claims process. Status Insurance Brokers has a dedicated team at your service!
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